The Green Bay women’s basketball team celebrated a trio of 5th-year players on Senior Day Saturday.
“You don’t ever want to see them go,” Phoenix Head Coach Kevin Borseth said earlier this week. “It’s really hard to see them leave because they’ve been around, and they’ve become a part of your fabric.”
Laken James and Jen Wellnitz both redshirted their fresman seasons with the Phoenix and had to fight for playing time behind some of the most talented guards to play at Green Bay. Mohns played four years at Iowa before become a graduate transfer at GB.
The trio was tasked in helping lead the way for the first time in their careers, and that became even more urgent after a myriad of injuries to key players.
“It’s your last year and your last go-round,” said senior guard Laken James. “You put in so much work from the year’s past where it’s kind of like it’s now or never, and that’s kind of the way I approached it.”
Arriving on campus for the first time five years ago was a reality check for Wellnitz.
“You think you’re the big dog you know what I mean?” the senior guard said this week. “You get here and you’re the little dog, maybe even a cat. It’s awesome though. Not everybody from my town, we have about 400 people in South Wayne, and I think I’m the first female athlete to be a Division 1 athlete.”
Borseth has high praise for the reigning Horizon League Defensive Player of the Year.
“She is the best athlete I have ever coached bar-none,” Borseth said. “And I’ve had some very good athletes come through here. Jen is one of those kids like, ‘oh no, way to go.’ She does way more ‘oh no way to go’s’ then anybody you can ever imagine. She gives 110%, and she is all-in on every play.”
The Oconto native James was all-in for GB before ever suiting up in green and white.
“Laken was somebody that I really, really felt wanted to come here, and I knew that right from the start,” Borseth said. “She probably put more time into recruiting us than anything. But just a tireless work- ethic, tough kid, good leader and it’s all come full-circle for her.”
The same can be said for Carly Mohns who was recruited by Borseth our of high school. Mohns has come on strong lately scoring 60 points in the last four games, four more than her best season at Iowa.
“Coming in it was a little difficult,” Mohns admitted. “A brand new coaching staff, new offense and everything. So I really had to work into the offense, know the different movements, know when to cut, and I think I am getting it now.”
“She’s become more comfortable in what we do both offensively and defensively, Borseth said. “The fact we were down some bodies obviously, somebody had to do something and she filled a big role so we’ve been lucky for that so far.”
The Phoenix trail Wright State by one game with two left to play in the Horizon League standings. So this senior class knows it could be the first in 21 years not to hang a regular season conference championship banner in the rafters.
But after a season that could have gone off the rails due to injuries and inexperience, these seniors aren’t sweating it.
“If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, said Wellnitz. “The main goal is to make the NCAA Tournament. You really don’t want to be that class that it happened to.”
“We’ve fought through a lot of adversity this season,” James added. “We put together the best season we could. Hopefully things fall back into our hands. I think I can be comfortable saying I think I did everything I could.”
So how will this GB senior class be remembered?
“That class that had to work their tail off to get to where we are today because nothing was handed to us.”