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Germantown boys regroup after streak ends

All major goals remain intact

Jan. 19, 2014

The record-setting streak is done, egos bruised and then massaged, and a new streak started with a relatively easy, 79-44 win over Port Washington on Friday.

But hard games continue to roll down the pipeline for the recently humbled Germantown boys basketball team (14-1) after their 68-58 loss to the new top-ranked team in the state, Brookfield Central, on Jan. 14 (see GermantownNOW.com for details).

Hard-charging North Shore rival Whitefish Bay visits next at 7:30 p.m. Friday having tested the Warhawks sternly back in December.

For the moment, Germantown is out of the ultimate spotlight, with Central now likely to get a lion's share of the attention for the time being.

That will no doubt suit Warhawks coach Steve Showalter just fine.

"We're working on things," he said. "That first practice (on Jan. 15) we handled it a little differently. Some of us were mad, some were sad, some were ready to move on, others were not.

"We'll figure it out together."

Which they'll need to do.

His team has been living in a very large fishbowl for the last 21/2 seasons with all kinds of fans, pundits and media types like myself wondering about diverse things such as Germantown's place in the history of all-time great state prep hoops teams and who is LaMonté Bearden's favorite hip-hop performer.

Two state titles, a state record 69-game winning streak, and 94 victories in the last 97 games will do that to a team and a coach.

But all of us who know Showalter just a little bit know that he has always had an underdog mentality. He has a glossy 247-79 record with six North Shore Conference titles in the past seven years, and two other trips to the state tournament on his resumé.

He, and others of a certain age, however, know that this is the fat period, the spoiled period in Germantown hoops history. He has worked tirelessly with many other dedicated staff to build the youth programs and the high school teams. They have instilled a sense of pride and success in a basketball program where for close to 50 years prior to his arrival, little to none of that had ever existed.

Bless his heart, but all-time Germantown great baseball coach Chuck Ritzenthaler is the next winningest coach in Warhawks basketball history and he has a mere 99 victories to his credit.

So before fans get edgy, nervous and unhappy, they should be grateful. They should enjoy this all and then they should store it in their permanent memory banks. They should cheer lustily the success of this great, great team and time and the players and coaches who have toiled and labored to raise a majestic mountain where in the past only a muddy valley had existed.

I covered too many 1-20, 3-18, etc., types of Germantown basketball teams in the 15 years or so prior to Bill Colondro (who laid a bit of the groundwork for Showalter) and then Showalter's arrival.

Trust me, you don't want to go back there and neither does Showalter.

So don't be surprised if he and the Warhawks don't toil quietly under the radar for the next few weeks, preparing for Bay, then for defending state D2 runner-up Wisconsin Lutheran on Feb. 4 and then a rematch on the road with powerful Homestead on Feb. 20 in the regular season closer.

Showalter knows he needs to find a better way to free up his suddenly well-shadowed 3-point shooters, that he needs sensational forward Evan Wesenberg's ankle to feel better soon, that the Warhawks need to be more dedicated to crashing the boards and that he needs to find a dedicated "go-to" person in clutch moments.

Past history tells you that Showalter will find a way to solve most if not all of those problems.

In the interim, the Warhawks will continue to win games, and they will continue to terrify the bad, mediocre and even the really good teams.

But for the time-being, Showalter knows the armor of invincibility has been pierced for the games against the several excellent teams that remain on the Warhawks' schedule this winter.

That's OK though; it'll help him build up the team's edge again. It'll make it easier for them to work even harder in practice now that when it comes to state polls, the number "1" won't be automatically attached to their name.

They'll work at simple goals first. Getting better in practice, winning the next game, defending their North Shore Conference title. Then for this talented group of high school kids (and please do remember they are just kids), they can think about the bigger things.

You know, important stuff, like what music should be played in the locker room after their latest big victory.

Which, we all know, there will be one or more of those coming soon.

MOVING ON

Port win starts new run.

SUMMARY: After a sluggish 34-24 start against Port, the Warhawks blew open the game with a 21-5 third quarter effort. Brian Bearden led the way with 19 points including all seven of his free throws while Jon Averkamp and Wesenberg had 13 apiece and LaMonté Bearden 12.

UP NEXT: Bay (5-3, 10-4) just had its eight-game winning streak broken by Homestead (6-1, 11-1) by a 51-45 count on Friday. The Blue Dukes hit 10 3-pointers and lost by only eight to the Warhawks back in December so Showalter is expecting nothing easy from a team that has always given his units trouble. "They'll come in mad," Showalter said.

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