A fast, strong Wisconsin Lutheran boys basketball team suffered an 84-51 defeat at the hands of the visiting Germantown Warhawks on Tuesday night.
The Vikings (14-4, 11-0 in the Wisconsin Little Ten) joined an ever-expanding list of teams on the wrong end of the Warhawks’ stampede back to Madison.
So it was business as usual on Tuesday as the Warhawks stormed ahead early and methodically built a comfortable lead behind the steady leadership of 7-foot standout senior center Luke Fischer and speedy junior guard LaMonte Bearden.
Bearden led the Warhawks with a game-high 27 points, while Fischer chipped in with 19 and was a constant rebounding and shot-blocking presence.
“I thought we put such a great effort in early defensively that we tired ourselves out,” Wisconsin Lutheran head coach Ryan Walz said. “You have to work so hard to stop them, I think we just ran out of gas. We have not played a team with that kind of length.
"They obviously have the height, but Bearden is long, [junior Jake] Showalter is 6-foot-3 playing guard. They touched a ton of passes.”
The Vikings hung tough for the better part of the first half and trailed 30-23 with half the second quarter to play. Then the Warhawks took over, embarking on a 17-0 run spanning two quarters to build a 47-23 lead.
There was little doubt of the outcome at that point.
“It was close for a long time,” Germantown head coach Steve Showalter said. “They keep putting people in there, and they try to wear you down. We kind of beat them at their own game.
"They turned it over a couple times; it wasn’t necessarily us making great plays, it was just about sticking to it. The start of the second half was awesome.”
Walz said the Vikings’ season-high 22 turnovers were the kiss of the death.
“If we were going to turn the ball over and let them get in transition, they’re just going to absolutely shred you,” he said. “If you turn it over 22 times against them, you will not be within 30 points.
"Part of the problem is that we play fast; we play up-tempo. It’s hard to try and not do something you just naturally do. We can’t slow it down; that’s just not what we do.”
The defending Division 1 state champions (19-0, 12-0 in the North Shore Conference) are outscoring opponents by an average of 78-47 this season.
Their margin of victory has been in the single digits just twice. They have not lost a game in almost two years – a controversial WIAA Super Tuesday contest against Appleton East on March 15, 2011.
And they recently cracked USA Today’s ranking of the top 25 teams in the country. By any measure, the Warhawks are pretty good.
“We don’t talk about that,” Showalter said. “What we talk about is coming to practice and getting better. They read, they go on the Internet. Everyone tells them how good they are, and I’m the only one who can tell them they’re not good enough yet.”
Walz, whose team was paced by junior guard Keith Franklin’s 15 points, believed there was plenty to gain from the Vikings’ most lopsided loss of the season.
“There’s a reason we schedule these games,” Walz said. “To be the best, you have to beat the best. They are the best. They’re the kings of the mountain. We lost, but we can walk away and get better.
"Tonight has no effect on our end goal. Our first goal is to win the conference, and our second is to make it to the state tournament. If we don’t learn from this and don’t get better, then it doesn’t help us.”
But on this night, it was another dominant showing for Germantown; one more step the defending state champion Warhawks took toward building something truly special again.
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