Coach vows to keep Warhawks' winning ways
Team features fresh faces, tries to replace huge losses to graduation
Germantown — No Ben Averkamp, no problem.
Germantown boys basketball coach Steve Showalter knew he would have to reach to cover the gapping chasm that the graduation of the two-time NOW All-Suburban Player of the Year would leave this season.
But it looks like the gap may not be as wide as he once thought it was, as he found some answers Saturday night when his sophomore-dominated lineup (four starters of that age) outlasted a senior-laden Sussex Hamilton squad, 63-57, in the Warhawks opener.
"It's interesting," said Showalter, who lost to graduation two-time all-state center Averkamp along with a host of other fine players last season who led the Warhawks to two state tournaments in a row. "You lead a program like ours and you're used to winning in a certain way and then you lose 10 or 11 guys like we did. You then have to re-think the way you do things. … But in the end, you do want to wind up playing the same way you have."
Few returning players
Showalter definitely had to re-think a lot of things going into this season. He had only three players who came off the bench last year to carry on a hard-fought recent tradition that included two North Shore Conference titles in the last three years.
They included 6-1 junior Malcolm Bowers and two sophomores, his 6-2 son, Zak Showalter, and 5-10 point guard Josh Mongan. Other starters include 6-5 sophomore post Dan Studer and 6-1 sophomore swingman T. Joe Medley.
The senior quad-captains are 5-11 guard Jordan Infield, 6-3 guard Jordan Schaetzel, 6-6 post Jake Keefe and 6-2 guard Chris Stoming.
Coach Showalter had confidence in these players, even if they weren't widely known to the public.
"… But with as much basketball as I see, they're not new to me," he said. "I knew what they could do. They were ready to play and now they're ready to improve."
That wasn't quite apparent early Saturday as both the Warhawks and the injury-diminished Hamilton squad (1-1) scuffled through a rough first half as the Chargers took a 19-17 lead.
Defense cranks it up
But in the third quarter, the Warhawks ratcheted up the intensity on defense and on the offensive boards, turning in an 8-0 run that pushed them ahead, 29-23. They would never trail again.
Zak Showalter had four of his game-high 22 points in the run.
"We needed that run, we're used to getting them," said his father and coach, Steve. "Our press is not good enough yet to get it all the time, but my guards (Zak Showalter, Mongan and Bowers) have been through the wars."
Germantown held a 31-29 advantage at the quarter.
In the crazy final stanza, the two teams would combine for the same number of points they scored in the first three periods totaled altogether (60).
Hamilton's Kenan Hamadi tied the game on an offensive rebound at the 7:45 mark, but Zak Showalter drained a baseline three-pointer 15 seconds later and the Warhawks never trailed again. Zak Showalter would score the next 11 points for Germantown including two more threes.
"If you want to be a good team," said Hamilton Coach Andy Cerroni, "you have to defend somebody. We got in a situation where they scored some transition stuff and then later, when (Zak) Showalter hit those threes, we didn't have anybody close to him. You have to find the shooter in that situation."
Brett Meinecke (21 points) would score nine of the Chargers' points in a row in the second half, but Hamilton could never get closer than two points. Medley scored the final five of his 15 points in the space of two seconds on a layup and a steal that turned into a three-point play to improve the lead from 51-49 to 56-49.
Mongan finished with 10 and several assists for Germantown while Eric Reimer helped Meinecke out by scoring 13.
"It took awhile, but then it finally broke into one of those games we like," said coach Showalter.
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