Germtown - It's starting to become a proven fact about the unbeaten, No. 1-ranked Division 1, defending WIAA champion Germantown boys basketball team: The brighter the spotlight someone puts on the Warhawks, the better they play.
And you can throw in any number of mitigating factors that you'd like as the Warhawks prepared for another Saturday after Friday matchup.
Such as a more-difficult-than-it-needed to be North Shore Conference win the night before over Grafton, or such as playing their eighth game in nine away from home.
Or even being put into a small gym, before such an overflow crowd that Germantown coach Steve Showalter felt that the fans could have climbed into his shirt pocket, and as he said, "done my job for me."
And, yes, on this day Germantown was playing the number one ranked and defending state Division 4 champion Whitefish Bay Dominican team, which has arguably the best guard in the state in Marquette recruit Duane Wilson and one of the top sophomores in the country in physical 6-9 post Diamond Stone.
The final score was 88-53 Germantown as the winning streak hit 44 games.
Just as in the case of East Troy (80-36), Arrowhead (100-47) and Whitefish Bay in the first game (107-65) earlier this season, the better the opponent, the more obstacles thrown in the way, the higher these Warhawks climb on the ladder of success.
"We had our eye on this one for a long time," said center and 7-0 Indiana recruit Luke Fischer who led Germantown with 25 points, "a big matchup with big players."
And the team didn't let down.
Wilson, who was being observed by his future college coach, Buzz Williams, led all scorers with 30 points, but Stone, racked by foul trouble, could only manage 10.
Germantown (16-0 on the season) simply outnumbered the Knights (13-4).
A devastating run between the second and third quarters did the trick, as in that time, Germantown would hit 75 percent of its shots (21 of 28), including eight of their impressive 11 3-pointers on the night.
In that time, a three-point deficit at the quarter was turned into a 20-point lead going into the final stanza.
"We didn't get our shots to fall in the first quarter but we looked a lot better when they finally did," coach Showalter said. "... It was just a matter of coming out tough. I told coach (Dominican coach Derek Berger) that win or lose for either of us, it's a great game because it prepares both of us for the end of the year.
"They probably won't see this level of competition in (WIAA) D4 and we certainly can use the experience, too."
After going just five of 17 from the field in the first quarter, the Warhawks responded to the challenge by hitting 11-of-15 shots in the second. Stone had to leave the game with two fouls at the 6:43 mark of the second quarter and would not play the rest of the half.
The usual suspects like Fischer and point guard LaMonte Bearden did their damage in the second, but it was people like Bearden's brother, Brian, who hit the first of three, 3-pointers in the second session, and Dominican simply could not account for him.
And when Jake Showalter knocked down the Warhawks' patented inbounds play with just one second left in the first half, what had been a 14-11 first quarter deficit was now a 35-25 advantage.
"It was a matter of getting used to how they were playing," Jake Showalter said. "Diamond hit a huge dunk to start the game and after that we knew we had to play our kind of game, and not theirs."
Dominican was fired up from the start, as Stone got that big dunk and then Austin Moutry hit a jumper for a 4-0 lead. The tightly packed zone dared the Warhawks to shoot outside and they couldn't hit early.
The Knights stayed in a tightly packed zone and dared the Warhawks to shoot outside and Germantown couldn't hit early.
But the Warhawks stayed patient.
A pretty high-low play ("Something we've been working on for years in practice," Fischer said) that resulted in an Evan Wesenberg basket gave Germantown a 15-14 lead at the 6:26 mark of the second.
The Warhawks would not trail again.
Wilson spoke afterward of Dominican trying to neutralize Fischer and taking away the 3-point threat of Jake Showalter, but the Knights couldn't account for everyone.
"It was like playing a college lineup," he said.
The Warhawks second quarter was just a small wave as opposed to the tsunami that Germantown would hit Dominican with in the third quarter.
Even by the Warhawks' high standards, this quarter was preposterous.
They hit their first eight shots of the session, including a ridiculous five 3-pointers in a row, including two by Jake Showalter, two by Brian Bearden and one from Dearionte Hudson just for good measure.
By the time Showalter finally missed a 3-pointer, it was 56-37 at the 3:36 mark of the third. The Knights could not help but feel dismayed at that point, because they had hit six of their first nine shots of the third themselves.
And when Fischer hit a baby hook with 39 seconds left in the third, it 61-41, the game, for all intensive purposes over.
"We weren't too upset with the way they came out at us," Fischer said. "We knew that they would come out on fire in their house and that we simply had to take things over.
"I don't think I've ever played in a gym this small. There were so many people here, it was about as packed as it could have been. I hope this is a sign of good things to come, because we played our butts off tonight."
Fischer got help from Jake Showalter, who would go on to hit four 3-pointers and notch 16 points, while LaMonte Bearden had 14 points, Brian Bearden 11 and Wesenberg 10.
Germantown hit 59 percent of its shots (36 of 61) on the night, as it readied for its stretch run through the North Shore Conference. The Warhawks final nonconference obstacle before the WIAA Tournament is another road trip, this time on Feb. 5 to fifth-ranked in D2 polls Wisconsin Lutheran.
Coach Showalter said that the Warhawks have to keep the little things in mind when looking at the big picture down the road, the idea of repeating as state champions.
"We can't let that number (44 in a row) be a factor in our thinking, in what we do," he said. "There are going to be peaks and valleys. We just have to be ready for the next game."
But it's more like the next opponent has to work monumentally hard to be ready for the Warhawks.
"It (the winning streak) is great, I hope it never ends," Fischer said.
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