"It was like the old days," said Germantown boys basketball coach Steve Showalter after third-ranked in state D2 polls Wisconsin Lutheran pulled a rare wire-to-wire upset of the Warhawks, 62-52, Tuesday in Germantown.
And when he said that, it was not meant as a compliment, as two-time state champ Germantown lost its first home game since Dec. 22, 2009 against Middleton, a streak of 51 contests.
Part of the reason why, was that the second-ranked in state D1 polls Warhawks (17-2) were essentially playing with one guard (Juwan McCloud) against an experienced Wisconsin Lutheran (15-2) squad that was state D2 runner-up last year and returned veteran guards C. J. Polk, Dez Cockroft and Keith Franklin.
"They were there when we played them two years ago, they were there last year and they were here again tonight," said Showalter of the trio.
They no doubt remembered the hammering that Germantown gave their Vikings last year in one of the Warhawks many stunning steamroller jobs en route to a second straight D1 state title.
"I don't know if I gave that much thought," said veteran Vikings coach Ryan Walz of last year's game. "It's a new year, a new team, and with what they have (right now), they're a different team."
What Walz meant was that the Warhawks were without starting guards Lamonte and Brian Bearden and top reserve guard Dearionte Hudson for a fourth straight game due to their athletic code violation suspensions and arrests for alleged drug possession.
"We took advantage of our speed and quickness (in the absence of Germantown's guards)," said Walz. "We wanted to pressure them as much as we could and get pressure on their 3-point shooters. They (the shooters) didn't have a good night and that worked to our advantage.
"But we beat a good team tonight, regardless of who they had out on the floor."
The loss was historic in other ways. It marked the first home loss ever for four-year seniors Evan Wesenberg and Jake Showalter and it was the first wire-to-wire loss for a Warhawk squad since no one knows when.
Polk hit two shots in the first three minutes and that was enough for the Vikings to establish control for good.
The Vikings relentless man defense didn't allow Warhawk shooters to get open. Furthermore, Germantown was handicapped early when the senior post Wesenberg picked up his second foul at the 5:18 mark of the first quarter and sat the rest of the half.
It was 13-8 at the quarter and it was still only 18-14 Wisco in the second when the Vikings' offense took off in the final 3:52 of the half, outscoring Germantown 16-7 in that time to go ahead 34-21 at the break.
Junior forward Anthony Carver scored the first six points of that run for Lutheran and then four other players contributed after that point.
"They exposed our weaknesses," said Showalter. "We've done a pretty good job of covering up things (since the suspensions), but when you play a team that plays as hard as they do, you either shut your mouth and step up or you get beat."
Showalter also admitted that it may have been a mistake to keep Wesenberg on the bench as long as he did.
"I thought our advantage was inside and it was, and I may held him out too long," he said. "The lead went from four-to-six-to-12 and it got away on me. It was probably not a good decision on my part."
The Vikings pumped the lead up to as many as 15 in the third quarter (38-23) before a Wesenberg hoop in the final minute of the period closed the gap to 43-33 going into the fourth.
Germantown made Lutheran work hard for the win in the fourth. It held the Vikings scoreless for close to three minutes at the start of the session, scoring five points in that time including a Wesenberg fastbreak lay-up to make it 43-38 with 6:48 remaining.
But that was as close as the Warhawks were to get. They went over two minutes without scoring another point as Frankllin hit a big baseline 3-pointer to punch the margin back up to eight at the 5:20 mark.
The advantage never dropped below seven after that point.
Walz, whose team has now won eight in a row and has only lost tough decisions to state D1 ranked foes Oshkosh North and Milwaukee King, came back to his three starting guards as the keys to victory.
"They're kids who played a lot of minutes last year and they're seniors who are hungry," he said. "They really handled things well tonight. With Germantown, you have to do two things if you want to win. One is that you have to beat their pressure and the second is you have to keep them out of transition.
"We did that, we didn't turn the ball over."
Cockroft finished with 14 points to lead Wisco as Carver had 13 and Franklin 12. Germantown was led by Jake Showalter with 15 as Wesenberg and Jon Averkamp had 10 points apiece.
Showalter was quietly dismayed at certain aspects of the game. Aspects that he has not seen from his squad in several years.
"We got pushed around and out-toughed tonight," he said. "That doesn't happen to us very often. Every loose ball, every rebound they needed, they got.
"We got beat in every aspect by a good team tonight."
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