Nicolet pushes unbeaten Germantown boys to brink as Warhawks survive, 76-69
Winning streak goes to 40 games
Germantown - Not everything is going to be pretty, not everything is going to look marvelous in the world of the defending state champion Germantown boys basketball team.
But coach Steve Showalter and the Warhawks could do with fewer difficult and sticky efforts like they had Friday, 76-69, over a tenacious Nicolet team that stuck to Germantown's shoe like an old piece of gum.
"Our defense was not good and our offense was not much better," Showalter said. "They out-hustled us almost the entire way and defensively they played better.
"… We shouldn't be giving up close to 70 points in a game (the most they have since the first week of the season). I tell you, this cost me one sleepless night. I respect Paul (Knights coach Hepp) and everything he does out there. They played hard and forced me to go back to the drawing board. At this point, we're not a happy team."
And Hepp, who in the early days of Showalter's tenure more than a decade ago, led a program at Nicolet that Germantown aspired to be like, was not completely happy with just a good moral effort either.
"We're getting to that point," he said. "We look at the big picture, we just want to be the best team that we can be night in and night out, and if we can compete with a team like Germantown, then we can compete with just about anyone else out there.
"I was just very proud of their efforts tonight."
With the victory, the top-ranked Warhawks improved to 7-0 in North Shore play and 12-0 overall, running their winning streak to an impressive 40 games. Meanwhile, Nicolet fell to 4-3 and 6-6, respectively.
Germantown begins the second half of North Shore play on the road at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Homestead (5-2, 9-6). The Highlanders were 70-60 losers to Whitefish Bay (6-1, 10-3) in the battle for second place in the league Friday.
Showalter said he will impart a more serious attitude in the Warhawks this short week.
And it didn't look like they needed to be overly serious late in the third quarter Friday, as they held a 60-40 lead over the Knights en route to what was looking like a standard Germantown blowout.
But the Knights had other ideas in mind, as they became the aggressors the rest of the way, going on a 23-7 run that closed the margin to 67-63 with about four minutes to go.
"We played some very good defense, got some deflections and blocked out pretty well," Hepp said. "We were able to put a little pressure on them."
The margin never got any closer than four, but the Warhawks had to sweat the finish, relying on 7-0 center Luke Fischer (game-high 28 points) to get big buckets and free throws down the stretch.
Jake Showalter would finish with 16 (13 of them in the first half) while LaMonte Bearden had eight and Evan Wesenberg seven. Tyler Miller had 25 and Eugene Bonner 20 for the Knights.
"We're not far away from becoming a real good team," Hepp said.
Taking everyone seriously
Showalter would like to see more of the Warhawks that steam-rolled top-ranked opponents like Arrowhead, East Troy and Bay. That requires the team taking everybody seriously.
"This was not one of our better efforts," he said, "and we know that we've got better ones in us. The kids aren't stupid though, they read things, they go online. They know we haven't played a real meaningful game with these guys in a few years so though I can tell them all about Nicolet's history and how tough it has been to beat them, sometimes it does go in one ear and out the other."
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