When Doug Pickarts coached at DeForest, he wanted his daughter, Teegan, to witness a girls basketball player who performed at the highest level on the state’s biggest stage.
So Doug and Teegan Pickarts went to the WIAA state basketball tournament in 2015 and watched as Barneveld guard Hannah Whitish, then a junior, scored 25 points in a semifinal against Fall River and started the Golden Eagles rolling toward their second consecutive WIAA Division 5 championship.
Jump ahead one season and Doug Pickarts, the coach, and Teegan Pickarts, the player and teammate, saw up close what kind of player Whitish is — after Doug became Barneveld’s coach for the 2015-16 season and Teegan joined the team.
“Hannah has so many aspects to her,” Doug Pickarts said last week. “She’s a very talented kid who has worked very hard. She has been given God-given ability, but it’s what she’s done with it. She has God-given ability, she has work ethic and she has that personality.”
The 5-foot-9 Whitish, a senior guard who will play for Nebraska next year, averaged 24.1 points and shot 47 percent from 3-point range this season in leading the Eagles (28-1) to a runner-up finish at the WIAA Division 5 state tournament last month at the Resch Center in Ashwaubenon.
For her efforts, Whitish has been named the Wisconsin State Journal and WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Girls Basketball Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.
It is one of many honors for Whitish this season. She was named a first-team selection on The Associated Press All-State team, which includes all divisions, and AP girls state player of the year. She was the Gatorade state player of the year and named Miss Basketball by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
She described being named the state’s top player as “a blessing.” She said there were some incredible players who played in the past and present, and was humbled to be included with them.
“It’s an honor to stand up with them,” she said.
The hard-working Whitish never seemed to take a breather in-season, and that trend has continued now that Whitish is getting ready for her next stop — Nebraska. She still works out 90 minutes each day — lately, the schedule calls for 45 minutes of cone work and shooting drills, followed by 45 minutes of lifting and running.
“It’s pretty weird — every day I’m in the gym, I’m shooting around, (knowing) there’s never going to be that Barneveld community-packed gym anymore,” Whitish said.
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Whitish was recognized as Miss Basketball shortly after scoring 24 points in the Division 5 title game, which Wisconsin Rapids Assumption won 62-45.
“It’s pretty special,” Whitish said. “I worked hard. I know I have. It would have been a lot more special to go out with a gold ball. But I have a great team, so it’s great.”
Doug Pickarts said Whitish was disappointed after the defeat, which meant Barneveld wound up with two gold balls and two silver balls in Whitish’s career. Assumption and Barneveld met in each of the past four state finals, splitting them 2-2. Assumption also took two regular-season victories over Barneveld over that time — completing the list of Whitish’s only four career losses.
Whitish always — with that personality Pickarts mentioned — wants the ball when the game is on the line, Pickarts said. But she also wants to make her teammates feel very much part of the team on and off the court.
“When we went to Barneveld, she was one of the first persons to make Teegan feel welcome,” Pickarts said. “There are so many things tied to the person and player she is. Her parents instilled in her such a great work ethic. … She helped bring home four (trophy) balls – two gold and two silver. What a remarkable career she has had.”
Coach of the Year
As Verona coach Angie Murphy soaked in the moment, she knew the Wildcats’ WIAA Division 1 state championship victory over Mukwonago and their season were special. She had watched the players improve and buy into what the coaches were teaching.
“It’s been such a pleasure to coach them,” Murphy said.
For her efforts, Murphy was named the Wisconsin State Journal and WisconsinPrepZone.com All-Area Girls Basketball Coach of the Year.
That followed Murphy being selected as The Associated Press girls basketball coach of the year in a vote of reporters from around the state. Murphy said that honor was a milestone she shares with past and present players, assistants and others associated with the Verona program.
It was a banner year for area girls basketball teams: Six qualified for state, two won titles and two earned runner-up finishes.
Also considered for the all-area coaching award was Mineral Point’s Mitch Wainwright, who led the Pointers to the WIAA Division 4 state championship; Stoughton’s Brad Pickett, who directed the Vikings to a runner-up finish in Division 2; Barneveld’s Pickarts; Madison Edgewood’s Lora Staveness, who led the Crusaders to a Division 3 state semifinal; and Fall River’s Jim Doolittle, who directed the Pirates to a Division 5 state semifinal.