Warhawks girls earn pivotal win over Cedarburg, stay in NSC lead
Germantown still tied up top with Bay
The truly heavy lifting is over for the Germantown girls basketball team in its quest for its first conference title in 40 years.
Now, after a pivotal, 68-53, road win over defending North Shore champ Cedarburg on Friday, the Warhawks just to have maintain focus as they try to hold onto their tie for the league lead with Whitefish Bay.
Which will still require some sweat equity.
"We have some work to do," Warhawks coach Matt Stuve said, "because I don't think Bay is going to lose again (in conference), but this was a big game for us. We had to have this one (after losing to Bay on Jan. 24). Just psychologically huge."
With the win, Germantown completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs, and improved to 8-1 in NSC play (same as the Blue Dukes) and 12-4 overall. The Warhawks have now played the two toughest teams in the league in the second half of the season schedule (Bay included) and have five league games left against teams they should be favored against.
They took on Milwaukee Lutheran on Tuesday, which Bay (8-1, 13-2) routed Friday and are at Grafton on Friday in a pair of league tilts. On Feb. 11, they host area rival and unbeaten state power Kettle Moraine Lutheran in a 7:30 p.m. nonconference game.
It's the Warhawks final nonconference game of the season and a beauty.
"Our goal is to play as long as we can in this season (including the WIAA playoffs)," Stuve said, "and to do that, we have to get better (and play better teams)."
Which means no more first halves like the Warhawks had against Cedarburg (6-3, 10-4).
Stuve estimated that the Warhawks had 18 turnovers in the first half but because of five 3-pointers in the first quarter, Germantown was up 19-16 at period's end. The Warhawks stabilized things a bit in the second and held a 35-31 lead at the break.
"I told them at halftime we had too many turnovers and gave them a few too many offensive rebounds but we were still up four," said Stuve, "and then Paige (senior point guard Groth) said 'Really?'
"...It just didn't feel like we were winning. Fortunately in the second half, we did things better."
That they did. The Warhawks outscored the Bulldogs 15-7 in the third quarter and then were able to hold them at arm's-length the rest of the way.
"The interesting thing is that they tried to play at our pace, going five (players) in at a time," Stuve said. "They tried to keep it going in the second half and I think they got a little tired. Meanwhile, we were able to maintain our pressure."
Both Amy Flasch and Erika Berry hit big fourth quarter free throws to keep Cedarburg at bay.
As usual, Germantown had great balance as nine players scored, including Berry with 15, Flasch with 11 and Taylor Higginbotham and Val Meissner with 10 apiece. Kenzie Schmitz and Higginbotham had seven rebounds apiece and Flasch had five assists.
Stuve was pleased with how the team bounced back from the tough loss to Bay the previous week.
"The kids are resilient," he said. "We had an off-shooting night in that one, and we lost by one. We know we have enough good shooters to make things happen. We just needed to shore up our rebounding and we got help from everyone, including the guards."
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