The storm was still a long ways off early in the first quarter between the top-ranked in state Germantown boys' basketball team and fifth-ranked Oshkosh North in the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout at Concordia University Saturday night.
The Spartans (8-2) were using a tough zone to deny the middle to the lightning-quick and athletic Warhawks and the score was 9-9 with 1:52 left in the period.
"Could this be the night the record-setting 66-game win streak come to an end?" was the murmur in the crowd as the Warhawks appeared to be a bit frustrated.
But like a sudden gust of wind the storm rose and the hopes of the Spartans were dashed. No, there was going to be no history-making streak-busting going on here tonight.
Senior guard Brian Bearden cashed in a steal off a lay-up and then hit a 3-pointer. Another senior guard Jake Showalter picked up a fastbreak lay-up and then drained a trey himself. For good measure, senior forward Evan Wesenberg dropped in a nifty shot in the post.
Just like that, it was 20-9 at session's end.
The Warhawks then poured a monsoon's worth of rain on North's parade at the start of the second quarter with a 14-2 outburst. By the time the storm's intensity dried up, it was 34-11 Germantown with 4:35 left in the first half and the Warhawks' 67th win in a row was all but a settled matter.
The final was 81-55.
"Getting on a run like that feels good," said Bearden, one of four Germantown players in double figures with 13 points. "You practice like you play. We like to build everything off our defense."
His coach Steve Showalter agreed to a point.
"The defense was definitely the highlight tonight," he said, "...but early on, they were missing everything. They're normally a good shooting team, but once we got a few long rebounds (and got out on the break) we started rolling.
"How's this for a quote, we're a better team when they miss (chuckles)."
It'll do for now.
With the victory, the Warhawks closed out a busy 2013 portion of their schedule with an 11-0 record. It now marks two consecutive calender years without a loss for Germantown.
"That's pretty good," said Coach Showalter. "We don't like to celebrate in the middle of the year, but we ended 2012 with a 'zero' on the end of our record and now we have a whole 2013 with a zero on it too.
"Anyway you cut it, that's hard to do."
But not the way these Warhawks do it. They're famous for these outbursts and the great key to it all, no one on the team or even Showalter knows who's going to spark it.
The coach pointed to feisty junior forward Kyle Theis as one spark this night, as after 6-7 senior forward Jon Averkamp picked up his second foul in the first quarter, the 6-1 Theis, better known for his football skills, went chest-to-chest with the Spartans' 6-6 star post Cooper Radtke and shut him down.
Other sparks off the bench included senior guard Dearionte Hudson (14 points), junior forward Dwayne Lawhorn, Jr., (seven points) and sophomore guard Juwan McCloud (recently activated after sitting out with a stress fracture).
But it was the starters who got things really rolling in that second quarter when the Warhawks put the game away.
In that 14-2 run to start the period, there were threes from Bearden and Jake Showalter a fast-break dunk by Brian's point guard brother Lamonte', a steal and lay-up by Brian himself and then an absolutely sick-perfect lob and dunk by Lamonte' Bearden to Wesenberg.
After the run, the bench held form, as as Lawhorn, Jr., and Hudson combined to score the next 11 points for Germantown. The half closed out at 47-24 on a perfect drive and dish from McCloud to Wesenberg.
From Hudson's vantage point, there could be no drop-off when the starters got a break.
"Our whole mentality has to be on point," he said. "It feels great when we're all on the same terms and playing as a team (like in those runs). When we're playing as a team, we can't be stopped."
Germantown closed out the third period on a 15-4 run that stretched the lead to a preposterous 70-36 margin as Coach Showalter tried numerous different combinations to get as many people as much experience as possible.
A flurry of North threes at the start of the fourth closed the gap to 25 but it really wasn't as interesting as all that.
"If they had made those threes early on, you might be talking to him (legendary North coach Frank Schade) instead of me," said Coach Showalter. Hudson and LaMonte' Bearden led Germantown with 14 points apiece, as Wesenberg finished with 12 points and Averkamp and Jake Showalter had eight apiece.
Asked before the game how he felt about Friday night's Yearbook Shootout victory over Milwaukee Vincent, Coach Showalter said he was satisfied but not entirely satisfied.
His players carry the same attitude as they now start work on a new calender year with a game against Madison La Follette next Saturday in Wisconsin Dells.
Big goals await, like work towards a third straight WIAA state title.
"We just need to stay forcused," said Hudson. "Stay on our 'P's and 'Q's and get our third ring (state title). ...We like to compare situations like these (high-level tournaments) to state and get an idea of how difficult state will be."
One can only wonder if the Warhawks will treat the state tournament like they did North tonight?
It might be a stormy couple of days in March if they do.
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