ASHWAUBENON - In four years as coach of the De Pere girls basketball program Kelly McNiff compiled a record few can match.
She won 96 of 107 games, won one state title in 2012 and was a state runner-up in her first season, 2010. The other two years her teams were one win from the state tournament and this past year lost in a sectional semifinal.
She has been a winner in her four seasons with the Redbirds, but the run has come to an end. McNiff is leaving De Pere to become an assistant coach at her alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, for the women's basketball team.
Nothing is official yet, as McNiff said some paperwork has to be completed, but added, "Yes, the plan is to go to UWO."
She will replace Ana Wurtz, who accepted an assistant position at Winona State.
McNiff came to De Pere four years ago after spending two seasons at Green Bay Southwest and her touch with the program was obvious. She did have great talent to work with, including Jillian Ritchie, Alayna Cotter, Morgan Anderson and Kayla Dawson, but she consistently won almost every game her team should have.
That's not easy to do these days. In fact, this past season, De Pere won its first 24 games before getting beat by Kimberly in a sectional semifinal. That turned out to be McNiff's last game and her worst postseason run – a sectional semifinal.
Her final loss ended a 44-game winning streak, which included running roughshod over a competitive Fox River Classic Conference, which included this past season's Division 2 state champion Notre Dame.
While De Pere doesn't have an overall winning streak entering this coming season, it still has won 30 games in a row in the FRCC.
De Pere has lost plenty of talent during McNiff's tenure only to return the following season and continue its winning ways. Now a new coach to be named at a later time will follow in McNiff's footsteps with a lot of new players, as Anderson, Dawson and Claire Emmerich (who will play at UW-Oshkosh next season), amongst others, have graduated.
Expectations at De Pere are always to contend deep into the postseason, in addition to contending in the FRCC, and that won't change.
The last four years De Pere was one of the best girls programs in the state and much of that credit goes to McNiff. No matter what happens going forward, McNiff's contributions will be missed.
McNiff By Season at De Pere
2009-10: 26-2 (lost state title game)
2010-11: 22-4 (lost on Super Tuesday)
2011-12: 24-4 (won state title)
2012-13: 24-1 (lost in a sectional semifinal)
Follow Doug Ritchay on Twitter @dougritchay
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