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Thursday, 14 November 2013 15:30

Record-setting guard Kori Koss leads Firebirds’ offensive machine

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Senior Kori Koss and the Wisconsin School for the Deaf will defend their Central States tourney championship this season. Senior Kori Koss and the Wisconsin School for the Deaf will defend their Central States tourney championship this season. Terry Mayer/staff

WALWORTH COUNTY SUNDAY -- Kori Koss didn’t have any idea what was happening when officials stopped last year’s late-season game and Athletic Director Matthew Eby addressed the crowd.

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It turns out the junior point guard had established a single-season school record for total points, helping Wisconsin School for the Deaf to a 72-54 victory and besting Tanya Perry’s mark of 359 set in 1993-’94.

“I was shocked,” Koss said recently through sign language interpreter Paola Lopez. “I didn’t know. It was in the first quarter and they stopped the game and everybody was looking at me.”

Plenty of fans will keep an eye on Koss during her senior season at WSD after she earned honorable mention status on the annual all-Walworth County girls basketball team and made the Indian Trails Conference first unit.

Koss finished the campaign with 379 points and set another school standard with her 21.1 points per game average for the Firebirds, who won their first Central States tourney, disposing of Illinois, 30-19, in the title matchup.

Eby has taken the coaching reins from Steve Williams, who held the position for 23 campaigns. Eby has watched Koss enough to know that WSD has something special in the 5-foot-3-inch Green Bay native.

“Kori’s size can be an issue for those who just look at her walking into the gym,” Eby said. “But what makes Kori special is her ability to immediately make you forget about her lack of size and focus on her sizable game.

“It’s all thanks to her quickness, which she uses on both sides of the ball. She’s a skilled and instinctual point guard.

“Kori reads the floor and makes decisions well in advance of her age and experience. Ball handling and passing are on par with any point guard on the high school level. She is hyper-quick, but with a smoothness and control that makes her a special player.”

Koss also averaged 8.5 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 6.1 steals per game, including a school-tying 12 thefts in one contest.

“Kori and the (other) girls will have to find more aggression and toughness under the basket,” Eby said. “I’d like to see Kori become a more vocal leader on the floor. But she is a good team player and encourages the other girls and is patient and supports everybody. She is fun to be around.”

Koss earned the National Deaf Interscholastic Athletic Association Division II Player of the Year award and was an all-tourney selection in the Central States and Great Plains events.

Still, Koss understands that she must continue striving to improve.

“My strengths are layups and making steals and assists,” said Koss. “And being (a good) teammate. My weakness is three-pointers. I really learned more about basketball skills, but I still want to improve.”

While Koss will be the focal point, Eby is excited about the upcoming Firebirds’ season.

“We will be prepared to play one game at a time throughout the season,” Eby said. “My assistant coach, Martha Muller, and I are pleased with the way the girls have come along, especially our few additions. We look forward to having a competitive season. Our team goal is like every other small school: play hard and do our best.”

However, Eby said WSD must do several things to accomplish those goals.

“Especially when we play bigger teams we would need to rebound and box out, and the team’s conditioning has to improve dramatically from last season,” Eby said. “One positive thing about this team and what we all have in common is that we are deaf, but we can play like other hearing teams.”

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