Germantown boys finish 22-0 in regular season again
Nicolet no match as Hawks head into tourney
Veteran Nicolet boys basketball coach Paul Hepp probably knows his team did Germantown coach Steve Showalter and his defending state champion Warhawks a huge favor Jan. 4, when they scared the heck of them in a 76-69 loss, the closest North Shore game of the year for Germantown.
And how did Showalter and the Warhawks pay Hepp and the Knights back in the regular season finale on Feb. 14 on Nicolet's senior night?
In a very rude and thoroughly impressive fashion, as Germantown scored the first eight points of the game and never gave Nicolet a chance to breathe as the Warhawks won their 50th game in a row with a 99-45 demolition.
"It's like I told our guys," Hepp said. "It wasn't a revenge game for them because we didn't beat them (back in January), but they just wanted to show how good they really are and they did."
And in doing so, Germantown continued a season-long trend of showing up and playing great against very good competition, because these Knights (9-5 in North Shore play and 14-8 overall) had won six in a row, had held their last four opponents to fewer than 50 points each and had won 13 of their last 16 going into this contest.
Yes, Showalter said, the Knights had gotten his attention in a big way with that harrowing January contest.
"Since Nicolet played us that tough, since (Whitefish) Bay played us that tough (the second time around), they forced us to work on stuff," Showalter said. "We're much better now. We're now ready for stuff like the 2-3 zones teams have been throwing at us.
"Thank you for making us better.
"And I'm not being disrespectful when I say that. I respect the heck out of the job Paul has done at Nicolet. In fact, it wasn't all that long ago we were on the other side of games like this against them. They just did really force us to get better."
Bad news for other teams
That is very bad news for the rest of the state, as the 22-0 Warhawks head into WIAA tourney play with the idea of repeating the state title they won last season. WIAA tourney play for Germantown and Nicolet begins Friday with regional semifinals.
The victory was also the 45th in a row for the Warhawks in North Shore play as they put the final touches on their fourth NSC crown in a row and sixth in the last seven years. They have also now had two unbeaten regular seasons in a row.
One thing Showalter wanted to do in this game was establish all-state center Luke Fischer in the post. Germantown succeeded at that, as the 6-11 Fischer scored 13 of his game-high 32 points in the first quarter.
The Knights were dealt a crippling blow just 36 seconds into the game, when their tallest, strongest player, 6-5, 210-pound Tyler Miller, picked up his second foul. Miller sat the rest of the first quarter and a good chunk of the second.
"To have their best guy go out that early really hurt them," Showalter said. "I know if Luke (Fischer) had gone out that quickly, the game might have been much different."
Warhawks come out firing
Hard to imagine that though, because the Warhawks were absolutely on fire in the first half. Forcing turnovers with the press and dominating the boards, it was 8-0, then 16-5, and finally 25-11 by quarter's end.
Then, in the second period, the Warhawks ended all drama by scoring the session's first 12 points to make it 37-11. It was 55-20 at the half.
Germantown hit six of its first seven shots in the first quarter and eight of its first nine in the second as Fischer finished with 22 points at the half.
Like everybody else in the gym knew, Hepp realized that his team had run straight into a buzz saw. A motivated and talented buzz saw.
"They just have so many guys who can hit the 15-foot jump shot," he said, "and that really spreads the defense when you're also trying to defend a 7-footer like Fischer.
"It's not shameful to lose to a team like Germantown."
Nicolet was led by Greg Pigg with 15 points and Jerry Luckett with 11.
Meanwhile, the magnitude of what his team accomplished was not lost on Showalter as his son, Jake, added 12 points and Lamonte and Brian Bearden as well as Dearionte Hudson all had eight apiece. A total of 13 players scored for the Warhawks.
"I'm really proud of the boys for 22 in a row," coach Showalter said of the season. "It's great that they accomplished something that not many people in history can say they did, win every game in the regular season.
"And 50 (in a row)? That's a number I can't even fathom."
REGIONAL SEMIFINAL: The top-ranked and defending state champion Warhawks earned the top seed in its half of the WIAA Division 1 Homestead bracket and host the winner of Waukesha South and Hartford in a regional semifinal at 7 p.m. Friday.
REGIONAL FINAL: If they will win, they host the victor of the battle between the fourth and fifth seeds Homestead and Waukesha West, respectively, in a regional final on Saturday (TBA).
SECTIONAL SEMIFINAL: at Waukesha West on Feb. 28. Greater Metro Conference co-champ Sussex Hamilton (20-2) is the second seed on this side of the bracket and De Pere (18-3) is the top seed on the northern side of the bracket.
SECTIONAL FINAL: 1 p.m. March 2 at Homestead
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