ORFORDVILLE, Wis. - There is a different vibe flowing freely through the Parkview gymnasium these days.
The reason? Wins, and lots of them. The Vikings' boys and girls basketball teams, after years of struggling in the Rock Valley Conference, are flourishing in their first season in the Trailways Conference.
The girls, under the direction of sixth-year coach Chad Smith, are sitting atop the Trailways South with a 6-0 record. They are preparing for the biggest girls game in Orfordville in many years, as they will host fellow RVC castaway Palmyra-Eagle, also 6-0.
The boys are still in the early portion of their conference campaign, but a 3-2 record brings them a realistic shot at winning the crown as well.
Smith said the conference change has been a wonderful thing for the school.
"There's a culture change here this year, and it's because the girls know they have a chance of winning every night," Smith said. "It makes such a huge difference, not only in the games themselves, but also in the week of practice leading up to the games. They are bought in, and they understand what they can accomplish.
"When we were traveling to Jefferson, a school with 600 or 700 kids, the girls would show up already defeated. You could "U-Rah-Rah' them all you wanted and that worked at the start of the year, but by the time Thanksgiving rolls around they've already been beaten by 30 points. This will be the first time I've ever coached a meaningful game in January, and I can't wait."
The boys did experience some success in recent history, winning the RVC South Division title in 2014. In the three subsequent seasons, the Vikings fell on hard times, winning a combined five games in the three seasons.
This season, a talented junior class, along with senior point guard Riley Carroll, has made the Viking offense an explosive, attacking unit. Parkview is averaging 72 points per game.
In his second season at the helm, Parkview coach Mike Striegel said he loves the up-tempo style was his preference.
"In the first meeting we had with these guys when I started here, I told them that I love to push the ball up the floor," Striegel said. "This junior group has been together since they were little and they play well together. We've got quite a few scorers and Riley has done a great job as a point guard. We're starting to find that potential that we have."
The Vikings had a milestone victory earlier this season against longtime regional rival Brodhead and have won two in a row. Their game against Johnson Creek scheduled for Thursday night was postponed, and they will play at Williams Bay Tuesday.
Striegel said despite the success, the Vikings' still have more to accomplish.
"In the last couple of weeks, we've started to play much better on both sides of the ball," Striegel said. "We still have some work to do defensively. There are times when if we aren't hitting on offense, we might be in trouble. But with each game, we're putting one more piece on the puzzle and we'll get there eventually.'
Eli Hoscheit leads the team at 19 points per game. Justin Balch (14.8) and Carroll (11.0) are also in double figures.
"I knew when these guys were sophomores last year that they were going to be good players," Striegel said. "We took some lumps last year, but we're definitely in the running for a conference title. That's certainly one of our objectives."
Smith's team isn't nearly as explosive, but the defense has been solid. That was clear in the team's 33-30 win over a solid Williams Bay team earlier this week.
Kristine Mumm is the only Viking in double figures on the season, averaging 10.2 points per game, but Hunter Baars (9.3), Taylor Burrell (8.9) and Amber Hudson (8.2) all contribute offensively. "The other night a couple of our top kids struggled, but Hunter stepped up and did really well," Smith said. "The most encouraging thing is that we're having success with just one senior, and three girls that have ever played varsity basketball before. Almost everyone is back next year, and regardless of how Friday night and the rest of the season goes, this has been a great learning experience for them and it should make us stronger as a program."