Bluejays’ Sladek co-POY despite early injury
The Bluejay girls basketball season took a major hit when junior Renee Sladek went down with a serious knee injury before completing the first round of Valley play, and the conference coaches acknowledged that fact in what must be an unprecedented move.
Sladek not only was named to the First Team, she was voted in as co-conference Player of the Year with Wausau West sophomore Jasmin Samz.
Sladek was leading the league in points (18.3 ppg) and rebounds (10.3 rpg), and ranked 3rd in assists (3.0) until the time of her injury in a home game with Wausau East on Jan. 15.
In fact, Sladek narrowly missed being in the top 15 total scorers and rebounders for 12 games in just 4-1/4 contests.
Merrill was 3-1 in the WVC at the time of her mishap, and improved to 4-1 with a win that night. The Jays closed out a 10-12 season with a 38-36 home loss to Mosinee on Friday, after finishing off the Valley at 5-7.
“She was a game-changer,” MHS coach Melissa Yuska said. “It’s pretty impressive (she was selected First Team). It just goes to show the respect she has from the coaches in the conference and the type of player she is.
“She was a difference-maker and she made others around her better. Defenses focused on her, so that opened up things for others, but she scored in double digits every game this year. She continues to get better.
“She’s expanded her game. To start out, she was a promising post player, now, realistically, she’s a guard. She can pull up to shoot, of take it strong to the basket and score or dish off to a teammate. She’s not just a great athlete, she’s a great basketball player.
“She enjoys her other sports, but after high school she’s decided she wants to play college basketball. She’s a strong kid that likes the physicalness of the game. It goes well with her personality.”
Sladek was also the top player on the Jays’ state-qualifying volleyball team and a two-time state qualifier in track and shows her athleticism by competing in both high jump and discus.
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