First place at stake for Warhawks girls when they visit Bay on Friday
Team could take big step toward league crown
If the Germantown girls basketball team wants to make history and win that first conference title in 40 years then it'll have to win the games like the one that's coming Friday night.
The Warhawks (7-0 in North Shore play and 11-3 overall), who routed Port Washington, 79-31, visit red-hot Whitefish Bay (6-1 and 10-2, respectively) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
No one has to explain the importance to coach Matt Stuve or his Warhawks.
"It's a huge game," Stuve said. "We're playing better. We certainly know that they are (playing better) and we know how important it is. We win, we have a two-game lead."
Unsaid was the fact that a loss would drop Germantown into a tie for the league lead.
Safe to say, there hasn't been a game of this magnitude this late in the season for the program for a long, long time.
Germantown enters the contest on a four-game winning streak and is undefeated in the new year, while Bay has not fallen since an 82-77 defeat at the hands of the Warhawks back in December. The Blue Dukes have won nine in a row and all of them by double digits.
They are led by 6-2 center/guard Maya Jonas, who recently committed to a NCAA Division I scholarship to Northwestern. She's completely healed from a knee injury that she suffered 18 months ago and is playing with energy, intensity and passion. She will get help underneath from 6-1 junior Ashley Reed who had 16 points in the Blue Dukes' recent rout of Homestead.
Sophomore guard Kaitlyn Jackson is the wild card for Bay, as she loves to harry and knock off line any opposing ball-handler. Bay is playing at a much quicker pace under first-year coach Dave Markson and will not be thrown by the Warhawks frantic pace and hard, full-court pressure.
"It can be a little intimidating at first," Jonas said of Germantown's attack, "but then you get used to it. They (the Warhawks) do some really good things, but then you get into the flow of the game and it becomes just more of a competition.
"I'm jacked up for it."
So are the Warhawks, who hit 14 3-pointers in the win over Port on Friday.
"Looking over our numbers, you take away the last five minutes of the Homestead game a few weeks ago, and we've been as efficient offensively as we have been all year," Stuve said. "We're playing at a high-level offensively and we're doing a better job defensively, especially on the details.
"It's a challenge. We still want to play as fast we can but we have to pay attention to the details."
He said that team leaders like Taylor Higginbotham, Val Meissner, Erika Berry and Bridget Kelley have all stepped up their games of late with Higginbotham averaging at least five steals a game over the last three games.
"Her offensive game hasn't been quite there (the last few weeks)," Stuve said of Higginbotham, "so it would have been easy for her to let the rest of her game slide, but she's continued to work. She's in a good place right now."
Which the Warhawks hope to be after this game.
"We've had a good first half of the conference season," Stuve said, "but we know if we don't take care of business every night, we're leaving things to chance. We don't want to be in a situation where somebody else has to take care of things for us.
"That being said, looking at the big picture (a league title at stake) this is an exciting place to be in."
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