Kelley's free throw lifts Germantown girls past Nicolet in 60-59 thriller
Warhawks move into third in NSC
Germantown - The Germantown girls basketball team still aspires to great things in the topsy-turvy North Shore Conference this year, so they're going to need to pull out a few more heart-stoppers like they did Friday when Bridget Kelley's free throw with a half-second left on the clock gave them a 60-59 victory over Nicolet.
"It was quite a bit more exciting than we really wanted," coach Matt Stuve said, "but we got it done. If we can take care of business this week, then we can keep ourselves close (in the league race)."
With the win, the Warhawks improved to 3-2 in league play and 8-3 overall. They are third in the league behind co-leaders Cedarburg and Whitefish Bay (both 5-1 in league). Germantown played a makeup game with Port Washington (2-4, 3-6) on Wednesday and then hosts Homestead (2-4, 4-6) at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Stuve is hoping to make those games a little easier than the intense finish that marked the Nicolet contest. The Knights are four-time North Shore champions and though they do not have the talent level they had in the past, they still have the tenacity and will.
That became apparent in the fourth quarter. The Warhawks had taken a 7-2 lead and pretty much held a small lead throughout (30-24 at the half and 47-41 at the end of three quarters).
Sharpshooter hits threes
"Then we forgot about (Sara) Travia (the Knights 3-point ace and point guard)," Stuve said. "She hit three 3-pointers in the fourth and that made things very interesting."
Travia hit two of those shots back-to-back to tie the game at 52 late. Eventually the Knights earned a 57-56 advantage with less than two minutes to play.
In a wild scramble, Kelley was able to get her hands on a slightly over thrown pass and redirect it back to guard Taylor Higginbotham on the right wing. Higginbotham's subsequent 3-pointer with about a minute left made it 59-57 Germantown.
The Knights then ran a long possession and tied the score on a baseline basket by sophomore guard Lizzy Benson.
Then things got a little crazy. The Warhawks pushed the ball upcourt and Higginbotham missed a good look from the foul line. Nicolet got the rebound and with less than 12 seconds to go ran a give and go but Megan Johnston was able to poke the ball loose.
The ball went to the ground, Kelley got it and was pushed from behind with a half-second to go setting up the decisive free throw.
Shaking off the rust
Stuve said it was good to get back into action after the long holiday break.
"We had some good practices but its not the same as going against a different team," he said.
Higginbotham had her usual spectacular game with 18 points, six rebounds and four steals while Courtney Mehring had 11 points and five rebounds and Val Meissner collected three assists and four steals.
St. Louis recruit Briana Gray led Nicolet with 21, but she wound up fouling out late. She got help from Travia who had 14.
"We had 10 players score and we moved the ball well," Stuve said, "but we hit only 11-of-26 free throws. We're better than that. I don't understand why we can shoot so well from the arc but not from the line. I told them that that's a good effort for a bad shooting middle school team, but not for us.
"Sometimes they don't like my sarcasm (laughs)."
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