This was not Germantown basketball in terms of style, production or the pure grace that the game can be and which coach Steve Showalter loves.
No, the 57-28 victory over Mukwonago Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison was something different; grittier, tougher, and filled with more substance.
It was WIAA state championship-caliber basketball.
And it marked the end of a season-long journey for the Warhawks to prove that last season's title was not a fluke. That the flashy, high-scoring team that had rolled so many opponents could find a heart, find a way and get the job done,
Germantown scored a season low for points, but it was enough to make them the Warhawks the first repeat champions in division I since Oshkosh West in 2006 and 2007.
With the win, the Warhawks (28-0) extended their two-season long winning streak to 56 games and capped a year that had opened with a lot of questionmarks after a 10-person graduating class had left the court for the last time last March.
"We love to run up and down the court," said coach Showalter. "It's a beautiful game. You run up and down, make nice passes, hit open shots, but we were not allowed to do that. We had to figure out a different way."
That way included something that Showalter admits he and the team don't pracitce much: Defense.
"Guys like you know that I'm an offensive guy," said Showalter, "but we really are a good defensive team. We have the seven-footer in the middle (Luke Fischer) and our quickness came through in the third and fourth quarters. We stopped them from scoring, which makes it a lot easier on us when the shots aren't dropping."
Another way the Warhawks found is through its bench. Defensive stoppers Jon Averkamp and Evan Wesenberg were in foul trouble early and so Showalter had to adapt. That's where junior guards Dearionte Hudson and Brian Bearden comke in.
Hudson and Bearden both saw extended minutes as the Warhawks went small against the physical and bruising Indians (23-5).
"We had to take a chance that they could hold up against that kind of pressure," said Showalter.
Hudson played nine big minutes, scoring seven points with two clutch steals while Bearden 20 minutes, hitting four of five shots for 10 points with seven rebounds and three steals.
"We really needed that," said Fischer, who led all scorers with 17 hard-fought points. "The big guys are out and our six and seven guys come in and really pick it up and get it done for us."
But like it was said, it was hard.
Germantown looked like it was going to run away and hide in the first half of the first quarter, scoring 13 unanswered points to go up 13-2, but by then Fischer and Wesenberg both had picked up two fouls.
The gap closed to 15-7 at the end of the first.
"We wanted to have Luke on the floor, which didn't happen," said Showalter. "We wanted Lamonte (point guard Bearden) to run the floor and hit shots and he went one for 11 and we wanted Jake (Showalter) to light it up and that didn't happen."
"We had guys on our backs."
That they did. Mukwonago, behind a slowdown gameplan and some tenacious defense, got to within six twice in the second quarter and the margin was only 25-18 at the half.
But as noted, the different style the Warhawks were willing to play paid dividends in the second half. It was still 29-22 at the 4:46 mark of the third quarter, but then the Warhawks held the Indians without a point the rest of the period, as both Brian Bearden and Hudson came up with big baskets and Fischer hit a free throw line jumper to make it 36-22 going into the fourth.
The Indians made one more minor push, closing it to 10 with 5:23 remaining, but then the Warhawk defense strepped up again as the Germantown title was secured with a very Warhawk-like 19-0 run as the offense also finally rose to the occasion.
It was a fitting and and stunningly Warhawk way to close out a second title, to make sure last year wasn't a fluke.
"It's hard to wrap my head around," said Fischer, who received his Wisconsin Mr. Basketball award after the game, "but repeating is something that very few teams have done and to go undefeated again, that's just amazing."
"It was a tough way to get it done," said Wesenberg. "You had to box out and work hard. It was tough, but we're state champs, so I guess it was all right."
Coach Showalter, who wanted this game to be a pretty, dynamic, high-scoring and entertaining affair, discovered something more important; that his team had the chops, the mental discipline and the toughness to get it done when everything was on the line.
"I think perseverance is the word I'd like to use here," he said. "For these guys to come here to practice everyday and work hard when everybody is telling them that they're so great and the only guy who's telling them that they're not, is me is really something."
"The ability to persevere and adapt is what makes this team special. To come in and work and get it done was difficult."
"But we have an 80-2 record over the last three years with Luke and the team. I don't know if I want to lose again. It's just too sweet."
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