“So Appleton East it is”
Those words out of the mouth of Germantown point guard Josh Mongan after the Warhawks’ careful, 59-38 dismantling of Waukesha West in a WIAA Division I sectional final Saturday night at the McGuire Center in Milwaukee summed up the feelings of a lot of people statewide.
Because now coupled with the 47-42 victory of number-one ranked in the state East (25-0) over city rival West earlier in the day on Saturday, the ultimate test of the new Division 1 “Super Tuesday” format that the WIAA unveiled last year is at hand.
Number two-ranked Germantown (24-1) will play East in the so-called “Super Tuesday’ game at 7 p.m. Tuesday at UW-Oshkosh for the right to advance to the state tournament in Madison next Friday and Saturday.
“What a weird feeling,” said Warhawk coach Steve Showalter after his team won its third sectional title in five years. “I feel like we should be jumping around and celebrating, but all I know is that we have to prepare for a game two days from now and what’s after that if we’re lucky enough to win.
“It’s funny, we’re going to be playing the number one team in the state and it’s not going to be played in Madison. Still, it’s beats the alternative of not playing.”
Showalter’s ennui towards the new format is understandable, but should come with the comfort of knowing that his team is now playing some of its best ball.
After a somewhat challenging win over Waukesha South in the semifinal Friday night, the Warhawks faced a motivated West team fresh off its thrilling upset of defending state champion Arrowhead in its semifinal, and turned in one of its best defensive performances of the season.
After a thrilling end to the first quarter where the Wolverines (19-6) cut a 10-4 deficit to 11-9, the party soon ended for West , as the Warhawks scored eight of the first 10 points of the second quarter highlighted by 6-8 sophomore center Luke Fischer’s (14 points) dunk.
“We knew going in that Dan (fellow post Studer) would get a lot more touches than last night,” Fischer said. “We also worked a lot harder (to get open) and that paid off.” Studer added six points on the night.
Also during that run, the Wolverines’ chances took a big hit when sophomore forward Dylan Chmura collided with Mongan on the West offensive end and hurt his knee. He would not return.
“I know that just killed them,” said Showalter, “because I think he’s their best overall player.”
After that, and punctuated by Zak Showalter’s beautiful deep-arcing three-pointer from the wing, the Warhawks earned a 29-18 lead going into the half.
The high-water mark for West came in the third quarter after the second of Sam Domach’s back-to-back three-pointers cut the margin to 38-30 with 2:51 left in the stanza, but after that, Germantown closed out the quarter on a 9-3 run to make it 47-33 at period’s end. Fischer had five points in the effort.
Scoring the first seven points of the fourth period, including another three-ball from Zak Showalter (game-high 20 points), Germantown ended any drama.
Afterwards, Warhawk players were excited at the thought of playing East.
“This win is not as great as my freshman year, when it meant we were going to state,” Mongan said, “because that (the Super Tuesday game) was always in the back of our minds. We know we have work to do to get this job done.
“…but we feel good about the way we’re playing right now. Everyone says we should have killed South (the night before), but that was a good team and at this point in the season a win’s a win. We just feel that we’re playing our best ball going into these games.”
Senior guard Malcolm Bowers (eight points) echoed those sentiments.
“We put in the work and these are the results,” he said. “We continue to take it one at a time and work to get the job done. …And now we’re ready to go out and execute our game plan against the top team in the state.
“We’ll take care of business.”
His coach certainly hopes so.
“This was a much better effort (than last night),” Coach Showalter said. “What last night did for us was wake us up. I don’t think we were getting cocky, but I think sometimes when you get on a run like we did late in the season, you lose a sense of what you have to do to be successful.”
“…So now we’re here. I’ve been thinking about Appleton East since December. They’re a solid team. I didn’t sleep at all last night (preparing for West) and I don’t think I’ll be sleeping much these next two nights. We have a lot of work to do.”