Warhawks pass early-season tests with flying colors
Germantown takes down Bay, Dominican over weekend
Germantown all-state guard and Wisconsin recruit Zak Showalter admits that it was a lot more fun a few years ago, when he and his teammates were considered underdogs and could sneak up on people.
But those days are long past.
The Warhawks went 24-2 last year and are aiming for only one thing this season: a state championship. To prepare for that, they have a schedule with a 9.9 degree of difficulty on a scale on 10, fully fitting for a squad that opened the season No. 1 in Division 1 state polls.
They do that despite distractions like what occurred during the 88-26 rout of Hartford on Dec. 6, when Indiana coach and former Marquette University mentor Tom Crean came by with former MU players Terry Sanders and Steve Novak to take a long look at the Warhawks' 6-11 junior center Luke Fischer.
Later in the week, Crean and Indiana put a little frosting onto whatever offer they were going to make to Fischer when the Hoosiers upset No. 1-ranked Kentucky on a dramatic last-second shot on Saturday.
Getting back to business at hand, Germantown passed the first major series of hurdles on its formidable schedule last week when it opened the North Shore season last Friday at defending Division 2 state champion Whitefish Bay and routed the Blue Dukes, 77-48.
The Warhawks then came back the next night before a packed house at Homestead and defeated Division 4's No. 1-ranked team, Whitefish Bay Dominican, 74-60.
It's all part of a process that has a very big picture at the end, said Zak Showalter.
"That was a good game," he said of the Dominican effort. "There are a lot of people who think that they (the Green Knights) are the best team in the state, but we want to prove to people that we are. Show what we are truly made of.
"We have to embrace the situation that we're in; have fun with it. There's no pressure yet. You just go out there and play the next game, which as we know is the most important game on the schedule because everyone is trying to knock us off."
Germantown head coach Steve Showalter knows that fact, but even with that knowledge and his team's skill he still has a hard time settling the butterflies in his stomach, especially with an opponent like Dominican.
"We knew what we were up against with them (the Green Knights)," said Steve Showalter. "We played them several times this summer. They have two all-state guards and they have a freshman big man who's only going to get better and what's more we found ourselves down one in the third quarter."
That is the first time the Warhawks (4-0) have trailed all season.
To that end, Steve Showalter, whose team just wore down the talented but young Bay team the night before with relentless waves of talented subs, did something he doesn't normally do.
"I pretty much stuck to five players (guards Zak Showalter, Josh Mongan and Zack Kumbier and forward/centers Dan Studer and Luke Fischer)," he said. "Jon Averkamp (a reserve post) picked up three fouls right away, but the other big guys played really well.
"I tried going in waves in the first half, but that didn't work against them, so I stuck to what was working the best."
Zak and the rest of the Warhawks didn't mind, even coming at the end of a three-game week.
"Most of us play AAU in the summer, so we're used to playing five games a day," he said. "It wasn't that big a deal. Besides we had a lot of fresh legs the night before (against Bay). Everybody knows that we have a deep rotation (players like Averkamp, Jake Showalter, Evan Wesenberg, Brian Keller and Jimmy Doedens are all seeing a lot of time).
"But in a situation like that (Dominican) we needed guys with experience and we pretty much stuck with guys who can handle a situation like that."
A 19-10 fourth quarter run put away the stubborn Dominican squad.
"This was a good one to get out of the way," said Steve Showalter, "because games like this keep you nervous. The first thing the guys told me was that 'We need games like this for conference and the (state) playoffs).' We've got to be able to compete at a level like this all the time."
Which just goes to prove Zak's point about dealing with tough situations properly, as all five starters reached double figures. He had 18 points with three dunks and one 3-pointer, while Fischer had 19, Mongan 16, Kumbier 11 and Studer 10.
"It was great event," Zak said. "A lot of fun playing before a crowd like that."
Leaping over early hurdles
Falls doubleheader set for Saturday at Homestead
BAY NOTES: There was tension in the locker room at halftime as the Blue Dukes had used the last two minutes of the second quarter to cut a 36-16 deficit to 40-27 going into the break.
Steve Showalter was not amused.
"No, I didn't like it at all," he said, "so I let them have it at the half, and that was all right, they hadn't heard that kind of stuff from me yet (this season) and I've got veterans who can handle it. I just want them to do things the right way."
Which they did at the start of the third, going on a 9-2 run to start the session to make it 49-29. The lead never got below 14 again and was stretched to 58-36 by the time the fourth quarter got underway.
The Warhawks' disruptive full-court press knocked the Blue Dukes (1-2) off-rhythm, forcing several turnovers and causing hurried shots.
Bay coach Kevin Lazovik, whose team did a good job of fending off one Germantown outburst after another in the first half, saw that his squad just couldn't keep up anymore.
"I think if you play a perfect game, you can compete with them," he said. "Obviously, we didn't tonight."
Fischer was one of four Germantown players in double figures with 19, as Studer and Mongan had 13 apiece and Zak Showalter 11.
UP NEXT: They host Cedarburg (1-4) on Friday and then play border rival Falls (0-2) at 8 p.m. Saturday at Homestead. The Warhawk girls (0-3) will take on Falls (5-0) at 5:45 p.m., also at Homestead. Germantown won both ends of the doubleheader at Wisconsin Lutheran College last season. The games are played at the larger venues to accommodate large crowds anticipated because of the presence of Falls star J.P. Tokoto as well as the top-ranked Germantown boys team.
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