Fall River girls make first trip to state

Prep Mania Game of the Week winter schedule released

Saturday in a division five sectional final, the Fall River girls basketball team beat Sheboygan Christian 70-55. The win marked the Pirates’ first ever trip to the state tournament. 

Thursday at 1:35 p.m. in Green Bay, the Pirates play defending division five champion Barneveld. 

Fall River’s varsity team has never made it to state, but their junior class won state as seventh graders. Back then they were guided by Fall River police chief and basketball dad Brent Van Gysel. Van Gysel started the Fall River youth program in 1997 and says the girls were a joy to coach.

“They were young, sweet as pie, cute, just like they are now.”

Now, the team is coached by varsity head coach Jim Doolittle. Van Gysel’s daughter Grace keeps his presence with the team as they head to state. 

“I’m very much like my father.”

Doolittle calls Grace the team’s “enforcer” and says this team’s success is all due to their commitment, along with Chief Van Gysel’s guidance. 

“It’s all due to their hard work, the things they do in the summer, and the youth program.”

Doolittle also says the kids in today’s youth program look up to this year’s state-bound Pirates. 

“It’s really fun to see it come full circle.”

This year’s team is making sure the future of Fall River stays bright.