Germantown junior point guard LaMonte Bearden doesn't see it as anything magical the way he flows through defenses like a knife through butter, setting up teammates and leading the unbeaten and number one ranked Warhawk boys' basketball team to one imposing victory after another.
He just sees it as a matter of trust. And coach Steve Showalter's trust in the transfer student from Homestead is not misplaced.
In the Warhawks' stunningly dominant 80-36 rout of the state's second-ranked division 3 school in East Troy Saturday night, Bearden picked pockets, snagged rebounds away from bigger people and generally made miserable a Trojan team, which had come in with an impressive 5-0 record, boasting two 6-9 national recruits in Brett and Alex Prahl.
"I thank coach for trusting me, to take on the role of point guard," he said after his 21-point performance. "Everybody is expecting me to do well."
Especially his coach.
"LaMonte had a great game," said Showalter, "and he realized it to himself tonight, without really expressing it, that no one could really stand in his way."
Germantown's effort, which came in the nightcap of a daylong extravaganza of basketball at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee called the Al Classic, improved the top-ranked in state Warhawks to 9-0 for the young season, improved their winning streak to 37 games and made them 61-2 for their last 63 games.
They have come a long ways since the somewhat tenative start against Homestead not even a month ago.
"They're trusting each other a lot right now," said Showalter. "I think they've come together as a family. Early in November, we were a bunch of talented individuals. The question was how we were going to work together as a team?"
"Those early practices, I tried to emphasize that they could get mad at me, but don't get mad or down on one another. That trust is there now."
Like the trust Showalter he has in his 7-0 Indiana-recruit center Luke Fischer, who added 17 points including several early blocks of the Prahls which got the crowd rolling at the McGuire Center.
"If he can do that early in the game without fouling, sending a message of 'No lay-ups' then that's a gamble i'm willing to take," said Showalter.
Those early blocks helped fuel a 20-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. Germantown took the lead for good with an 11-2 run to end the period as Bearden had a putback of a missed Fischer dunk and then two free throws. Fischer then closed the period with a dagger of a three-pointer at the buzzer.
The trust came in another form in the second quarter as the Warhawks rolled out the red carpet of disaster for the Trojans as one press after another led to seven East Troy turonovers in the session.
Showalter rolled in one tier of guards after another including Dearionte Hudson, LaMonte's brother Brian and Showalter's son Jake (16 points), all of whom made it just about impossible for East Troy to get into its offense.
LaMonte Bearden fueled the early push in the quarter with a personal 7-0 run that included a three-pointer, two free throws and a lay-up after a steal.
Soon it was 33-17 and when Hudson finished off Germantown's scoring in the half with a three-point play, it was 40-19.
"It feels good when it starts to go like that," said Lamonte, "but it's also easy to do when you have players like Luke (Fischer) and Jake (Showalter) finishing things off. I'm getting super comfortable with everyone right now."
And in the third quarter, when Fischer picked up his second and third fouls in quick succession early in the stanza, Coach Showalter was comfortable and trusting enough to try a four-guard experiment.
Hudson, the Bearden brothers and his son Jake worked in concert with either of two junior forwards, either a game but ill Evan Wesenberg ("I was amazed at how much we got out of him tonight," said Coach Showalter) or Jon Averkamp.
"Who we're bringing in are basically other starters," said Coach Showalter. "They help us keep running like we like to do. We bring in quickness, not just bodies and when we kept pushing like we did, they (the Trojans) lost their legs."
That experiment helped the Warhawks outscore East Troy 12-3 the rest of the way in the third quarter as Germantown cruised into the final period with a 58-28 advantage.
"We're a really good team when we're out running," said LaMonte. "We don't try to force it. We just take whatever the defense gives us."
A theory that will be tested again soon, when the Warhawks challenge powerful Arrowhead in the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout on Dec. 27.
"This was a good game, and we'll take 'em where we can get 'em," said Coach Showalter, "but I was really worried about this one (going in)."
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