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What's to stop this version of the Germantown juggernaut?

Could it be unbeaten Homestead, which visits Friday?

Jan. 6, 2014

If the Germantown boys basketball team is going to be stopped in its quest for a third straight perfect season, it will have to happen soon, because it seems that the Warhawks are rounding into that same steamroller shape that left them virtually untouchable after December of last year.

They put on a devastating effort in routing a very good Oshkosh North team on Dec. 28 (see Germantown NOW.com for details) and then hammered Madison La Follette, 87-44, at the Swingfam Showcase in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday to improve to 12-0 on the season and improve their state record winning streak to 68 games.

Next up: Home game vs. 10-0 and ninth-ranked North Shore rival Homestead at 7:30 p.m. Friday. It will be only the fourth home game the Warhawks have played in 14 contests due to all their tournament commitments.

Coach Steve Showalter is a perfectionist, though, and he has concerns. He doesn't like the "off again, mostly on again" focus of this group, headed up by all-state point guard La Monté Bearden, who is one of four starters returning this season for the Warhawks.

Often this season, the Warhawks have not needed to put together a consistent 32 minutes to dispatch an opponent.

But they haven't needed to very often in the last 21/2 years.

Take for example what happened at the SwingFamily event in Wisconsin Dells on Saturday. Showalter said the series of games were held to celebrate the Swing AAU basketball program of which many Germantown players past and present take part.

"We're just trying to give back (by making the trip)," the coach said.

La Follette, a good team with a 6-4 record, was so stoked to play Germantown that it "came out breathing fire" Showalter said. The Lancers had height and length and were prepared to make a game of it,

But they couldn't.

Second quarter run

Germantown was already up about 13 points with about three minutes left in the half when the Warhawks went off on one of their patented runs. In the space of about three minutes, the Lancers went from fighting to stay in the game to wondering how soon their bus could be warmed up.

The score was 47-21 at the half.

"For some reason second quarters aren't always so good for the other team," said Showalter with only a trace of irony.

Turnovers, long rebounds, steals, fastbreaks. It's all a repeated theme. The impossibly deep backcourt of Bearden (10 points), his brother, Brian, Dearionte Hudson, Jake Showalter and the newly activated Juwan McCloud (seven points), wreaks havoc on the press and that leads to a number of easy baskets.

A large number.

What didn't help La Follette's case was that Jake Showalter had "his best game ever" according to his dad, the coach, hitting 12-of-15 shots including four-of-seven 3-pointers en route to a career high 31 points.

"We have about six or seven guys capable of being our leading scorer," coach Showalter said, "but we can't say enough about what he (Jake) provides us in the halfcourt game and in the running game. What he does opens up lanes for everybody else."

Add in talented forwards Jon Averkamp (12) and Even Wesenberg (10) and an ever-deepening bench, and what do you have?

Blistering, high-intensity, high-pressure, high-efficiency basketball that often leaves the opposition sprawled in the dust wondering where that Mack truck that hit them had come from.

Central was close

Following Homestead: A road game at second-ranked and 9-0 Brookfield Central on Jan. 14. Germantown needed a last-second Luke Fischer basket to edge the Lancers last year in their closest game of the season.

This high-octane version of the Warhawks differs from the powerful teams that have preceded it. There is talent to burn, of course, but no giant outward personality or player to focus on.

Though LaMonté Bearden is an outsized talent for this squad (many knowing souls think that Buffalo University and its coach Bobby Hurley are getting a steal in him), he is not always the focal point and doesn't need to be.

This team is developing depth and it just got a little healthier, too, as talented sophomore back-up point guard McCloud is just rounding into shape after recovering from a foot injury.

In short, the sum is greater than the total of the parts.

After that, there are home games with a fast-rising Whitefish Bay unit (8-3) on Jan. 24 and with defending state D2 runner-up Wisconsin Lutheran, on Feb. 4.

Keeping it going

So what is to stop them? Boredom, injury, ennui?

Steve Showalter is trying to guard against all of that, but his Warhawks have been crowding gyms and filling both the Germantown trophy case and in its general fund for close to a decade now and it would be easy for them to be distracted.

But let's hope they don't. Excellence like this is rarely seen. It's a comet seen once every 90 years or so and should be witnessed and then burned into the memory

In short, it's a stunning achievement and should never, ever be taken for granted, because the years this program used to struggle through are not all that far in the distant past and what Steve Showalter and his talented athletes have done is remarkable, stunning and historic.

How many more chapters in this very engaging book can this particular group write?

We'll know in a few weeks.

TOUGH SLATE

UP NEXT: Tickets may be going fast for Friday's big Homestead contest but there is a link on the athletic department homepage of the Germantown High School wesbite for buying tickets online through Ticketracker. It's not a bad idea. Check Brookfield Central's website for any potential information on tickets for the Jan. 14 contest. "We have two home games this week (including Nicolet on Tuesday), which is good for our fans," coach Steve Showalter said. "Our schedule hasn't been very balanced that way."

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