Wauwatosa East has been trying to hit their stride this season despite being hit by the Covid-19 bug this season. The Red Raiders currently sit at 7-11 as they take on two of the top four teams in the Greater Metro Conference this week.
“It has definitely been a more unpredictable year,” head coach Mary Merg said. “We just try to take it in stride and do the best with what we got.”
Junior Olivia Close averages 18.3 points per game for the Red Raiders, while sophomore Maddie Tucker averages 11.9 points per game and averages a double-double per game this season. Close currently has 274 points on the season and had a season-high 35 points in a road game with Germantown on Dec. 21 as well as games of 10 and 12 steals this season.
“She (Close) is a three-year starter and has already broken a couple records already,” Merg said. “She is definitely the heart and soul of this team.”
The Greater Metro Conference is headlined by two 10-1 teams currently in Brookfield East and Germantown. Wauwatosa East currently sits at 2-9 in the conference, and Merg considers it a balanced conference to be in.
“They are definitely the top two and everyone else is a mix,” Merg said of the Greater Metro Conference. “We are a Division 2 team and our whole conference is Division 1. When we play Division 2 teams, we are 4-2 and that is something we have to keep up.”
Merg is in her fourth season as head coach at Wauwatosa East after spending one year as an assistant. She also spent time as a graduate assistant at Stanford after her college playing career at UW-Whitewater, where she had a career that included a double buzzer-beater game that landed on Sports Center and is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,378 points.
Merg has taken a lot of things from every coach she has been around whether it has been defensive intensity while playing under UW-Whitewater head coach Keri Carollo, or offensive sets from Mandy Pearson, as a graduate assistant at St. Mary’s University, and even from being on the staff at Stanford.
“I learned how to be a leader as a coach and for your players,” Merg said of her coaching stops. “I dove into basketball knowledge and basketball IQ at Stanford and really grew my game as a coach.”
Upcoming Games for Wauwatosa East
This Friday, the Red Raiders take on Divine Savior Holy Angels, who are currently the fourth-best team in their conference. Next week, Wauwatosa East takes on Germantown on Feb. 4th.
“I hope we can get up to that .500 mark, and it would be great to win some conference games that we lost the first time around,” Merg said of the rest of the season. “The biggest thing is gaining confidence because we are a young team with two seniors. Our starting lineup and top seven are not seniors, so this year is about confidence and hopefully making some noise down the road.”
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