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Depth wins out as Indians outlast Warhawks in sectional

March 12, 2010

That's the problem with playing the Menomonee Falls boys basketball team.

You can withstand theiir first charge, maybe their second and possibly even their third, but in the end their depth will get you, and that's exactly what a game Germantown squad found out Friday night in the second half of the WIAA sectional semifinal at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee, as 10 players scored for Falls in a 74-61 victory.

Germantown (18-7) had fought the Indians (21-3) tenaciously in the first half, taking a 31-29 lead into the break, but fatigue was beginning to wear on the Warhawks. They even stood up to Falls' initial surge in the second half, when the Indians made five of their first six shots to take a 39-35 lead.

No matter, two free throws by Zak Showalter and a hoop by Malcolm Bowers tied the game up for Germantown at the 3:46 mark of the period.

But when Joe Henningsen then drained two free throws and Jalen Ramey (12 points) hit a drive that made it 43-39 Falls, Germantown had no more answers and would never lead again.

"It was just a matter of coming out and playing with confidence," said Indian senior point guard John Cording. "Just a matter of looking for each other. Pass the ball around and make them work on defense."

"We just have a will to win and a drive to succeed that's hard to beat."

Yes, indeed.

Falls, which tied a school record for season victories with the 21-1 1958-59 squad, will now face top-seeded Arrowhead (21-3) in the sectional final Saturday at 7:30 p.m. back at the McGuire for the right to advance to next week's state tournament in Madison. Falls lost to Germantown in the sectional final last year, and also fell to Arrowhead in the WBBY Classic at the McGuire in December.

The Indians would very much like to kill two birds with one stone.

"We have been very careful not to speak about Arrowhead all week," said Indian coach Ben Siebert. "We've been very focused on Germantown, but this (the Arrowhead loss) has clearly been a sore spot since December. They were the team we wanted to see and we were pulling for them tonight (the Warhawks routed Waukesha West, 64-32, in the opening semifinal).

"Because we really wanted another crack at them."

"This is the kind of game you want," added Indian sophomore star J.P. Tokoto. "A sectional final with everything on the line."

Both Germantown and Falls played very much like that on Friday before what was reportedly the first sell-out in the four years of sectional play at the McGuire.

The Warhawks worked to be patient in the first half and the Indians fought to speed up the tempo. Germantown had as large as a five-point lead midway through the second quarter, as Showalter (16 total points) and Jordan Infield (11) helped Germantown keep pace. 

Coach Steve Showalter was pleased with the way the Warhawks handled the Indians withering press, their size advantage on the boards and with the job they did keeping the tempo at a reasonable pace.

But he had a worry, and it was about to come true.

"It was their depth that killed us tonight," he said. "They put in fresh bodies all the time and we couldn't handle them from one to 10. It's tough to beat a team that's 10 strong."

After Ramey's third quarter basket, the Warhawks managed to get it to 43-42 on a three-point play by Joe Medley, but then Fall outscored Germantown 9-3 the remainder of the quarter, fueled by C.J. Malone's 3-pointer and subsequent jumper.

When Tokoto (13) hit a floater from the wing with 35 seconds left in the third it was 52-45 and Germantown would never get the margin under five again.

"We couldn't get much separation at all in the second quarter," said Siebert, "but we have such good players and such a deep bench, we knew something would eventually happen."

A putback by Warhawk point guard Josh Mongan (11) got it to 57-51 with 5:56 remaining, but then the Indians outscored Germantown 11-2 over the next four minutes to seal the victory.

The foul line, often an indifferent ally of the Indians, became their friend in the fourth quarter, as they would hit 15 of 22 charity attempts in the period, including 14 of their first 17. Conor Cassidy added 11 points for Falls.

Coach Showalter, whose team had made sectional finals three straight years, respected the Indians for their relentlessness and skill.

"I'd do the same thing if I had a team like they do," he said. "I had a team like that a couple of years ago, where I wasn't afraid to put people in. They just keep throwing people in until you get gassed."

"I give Ben credit for coaching to his strengths."

Now the Indians have a chance at doing no Falls team has done before: Advance to the state tournament.

The players can't wait for Saturday night.

"We want to finish the job," said Cording.

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