Germantown - To be sure, the loss for a month of 6-11 center Luke Fischer to a broken finger on his right hand is a major blow for the very large hopes of the unbeaten Germantown boys basketball team.
But after getting over the initial shock of the setback, which occurred in a defensive drill in a Jan. 12 practice, coach Steve Showalter and the Warhawks are adjusting.
They are reminding themselves that all the goals set forth at the beginning of the season are still intact.
All of them, including the ultimate of a WIAA state championship come March.
"We're hoping that he would be available for the (WIAA) playoffs," Showalter said. "We're being positive, and we're grateful that it's not a knee or anything else that would keep him from running.
"It's just a different situation."
Yes it, is, but the initial reaction was a good one, as they routed Nicolet, 86-56, on Friday in a North Shore tilt and now get ready for their headiest and most challenging weekend of the season.
The top-ranked Warhawks (6-0 in North Shore play and 13-0 overall) host North Shore Conference rival and seventh-ranked Homestead (6-0, 12-1) in a 7:30 p.m. Friday battle for first place, and then on Saturday, they have their last major speed bump on their preposterously difficult nonconference schedule as they visit second-ranked in Division 3 East Troy (10-1) at 7 p.m.
"The number one goal is conference," said Showalter, whose team has won or shared four of the last five NSC championships. "We've known about these guys (Homestead) all winter. It's as big a Germantown-Homestead game as we've had in a long, long time. This is an important one, because I really don't see anyone else beating them (in conference play)."
The underclassmen-dominated Highlanders survived a 61-60 scare Friday against defending state Division 2 champion Whitefish Bay (4-2, 8-4) and are led by 6-8 junior center Luke Worthington and 6-0 sophomore point guard LaMonté Bearden, the latter of whom sank the second of a two-shot foul to break a 60-all tie with Bay with just one second remaining on Friday.
"We're extremely excited about Germantown," said Bearden afterward. "We think we can beat them."
His coach Marquis Hines is a little more circumspect about things, noting that the Highlanders have put together a challenging nonconference schedule just to prepare for the moment when they face the Warhawks.
"It (the nonconference schedule) helps us get ready for the (WIAA) seeding meeting, it helps us get ready for the (WIAA) playoffs, it helps us get ready for Germantown," he said.
And even at full strength a few weeks ago, Showalter made only a half-joking reference to the great potential this Homestead team has.
"I hope that Marquis (Hines) will allow us one more conference title before he takes it over for the next 10 years," he laughed.
But it's all serious business now.
"We challenged the kids (after Fischer's injury)," Showalter said. "Do we hang our heads or can we get to the point where the Packers were most of the year (of) next man up, because we have to keep moving forward. We really need this one (against Homestead)."
Germantown 86, Nicolet 56: In their first game without center Luke Fischer on Friday, the Warhawks broke out to a 26-15 lead at the quarter and were well on the way to this NSC victory at 51-25 at the break. Nine different players scored led by Zak Showalter with 20 points, while Zack Kumbier had his best shooting game of the season with 19, with Josh Mongan tossing in 16 and Dan Studer 13. The 6-7 senior Studer and 6-6 sophomore Jon Averkamp came in for praise from coach Steve Showalter.
Germantown 71, Wisconsin Lutheran 58: The Warhawks broke out to a 22-8 first quarter lead at the quarter against the nonconference power Vikings and then coasted home despite a long-range assault that included nine 3-pointers from Lutheran in the Jan. 10 game. Zak Showalter had 27 points, while Fischer had 24 and Mongan eight.
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