'Nothing less' than another title will suit Germantown boys in state hoops
North, then probably King stand in way
The 26-0 Germantown boys basketball team is unbeaten for a reason and will this weekend become the first WIAA Division 1 team since Oshkosh West in 2006 and 2007 to repeat as state champion.
The Warhawks have, coach Steve Showalter said, beaten seven conference champions this season and have defeated during the regular season (and quite handily) strong favorites in the state D2 field (Wisconsin Lutheran), in the D3 field (East Troy) and in the D4 field (defending champ Dominican).
They have also won 54 games in a row.
Even Showalter and his star center Luke Fischer are at the point where they both say "nothing less" than another state championship will make this season a success.
Two questions follow:
One: Can anyone beat Germantown?
Two: Can Milwaukee King, which the Warhawks beat by three points in the state finals last year, do the job this time around?
Two coaches whose squads had the misfortune to lose to both teams this past season offered interesting theories in response.
Brookfield Central coach Mark Adams' squad gave Germantown its closest tussle this season, as the Warhawks needed a tip-in from Fischer at the buzzer to pull out a 66-64 decision in the third game of the season.
Central then went on later to lose by six to King in a WIAA regional final.
As for Germantown, Adams laid out four keys.
"First, you have to keep them off the offensive glass," he said. "Two, you have to handle their pressure and handle it for 32 minutes. Three, hope their perimeter game is not operating on a high level that particular night, and four, hope your perimeter game is working pretty well that same night.
"Even with all that going for you, good luck."
King can push Warhawks
But in King (22-4), which beat Racine Case in the sectional final for a return trip to state, Adams sees a challenging outfit that can push the Warhawks.
"They're playing at a very high level right now," Adams said. "Well enough to beat a lot of teams. There is no letup with them. They're just always on the go. You make a run and they answer back and they play as hard on defense as anyone out there."
Whitefish Bay coach Kevin Lazovik's squad was annihilated by 42 by the Warhawks in the game immediately preceding Germantown's battle with Central. But the Blue Dukes came back to make the second go-round with the Warhawks a far more respectable 73-60.
Bay also lost to King early on in the campaign by a 72-63 margin.
Lazovik, whose team has been a poor matchup for Germantown in recent years despite having a fair amount of talent, is simple in his assessment of how to deal with the Warhawks. Again, however, it is more easily said than done.
Patience on offensive end
"You cannot, under any circumstances, think you can play at their pace," he said, "but it's a hard thing to do. The first time around with them we tried that, and we all saw the results. The second time, we were more patient.
"The key is, is that if you break their press, you can't just take the first shot that's available to you. Yes, try to get a great look, but it may not be that 18-footer right after the first pass. That's the temptation. You're so happy you broke the press that you're tempted to take the first shot you see before something else bad happens to you."
He, too, believes that King will be a formidable opponent should both Germantown (Oshkosh North) and King (Mukwonago) survive their Friday semifinals and advance to the 8:15 p.m. Division 1 finals on Saturday night at the Kohl Center in Madison.
"When we played them (the Generals), they looked to be in midseason form already," Lazovik said. "They play with great patience and everyone can handle the ball and (senior guard Austin) Malone-Mitchell is a great floor general who can really control the game."
So what are the general probabilities of King getting a little revenge for last year, winning their sixth state title in the bargain and breaking the Warhawks' 54-game winning streak.
Neither would-be protagonist would let on to anything in a WIAA-sponsored teleconference Sunday as neither coach would look past their semifinal opponent. They showed only great respect for everyone in the field as well as retaining great confidence. King coach Jim Gosz, for one, was not backing down to anyone in that latter regard.
"We play for the name on the jersey," he said. "We play for the legacy of King. You're not just playing for yourself, your team, your family, but also for all the former players who have worn that jersey.
"… We don't worry about things like that (revenge) in the least," he added. "We expect to be here (at state) but anytime you get to the Kohl Center, it's a big deal. Our kids know how important each and every game was to get here, but having said that, it's like Austin (Malone-Mitchell) said in the Journal article (on the sectional final win) 'We have more work to do.'
"We also honestly believe we should have a doughnut (no losses) on the right hand side of the ledger and that has motivated us even more."
Different group of players
As for Germantown coach Steve Showalter, he's not letting himself think of King just yet, only a young and precocious (seven of its top eight players are underclassmen) Oshkosh North squad.
"In a way, it's the same as last year," he said. "It's great when you're chasing the dream, going up the mountain like we were last year. We were keyed up and focused (looking for that first state title).
"This group is a little different. Sometimes I look at them in practice (one way) and then they'll come out and play a really great game. The focus and the maturity level is a little different than last year, but the production and outcomes have been the same so far.
"… And the guys are very aware of what's going on. They know the pressure they're under and they're used to it. They come to practice ready to do a job and get ready for the next game. Teams talk about being focused on us for an entire year. I don't buy into that.
"I believe that teenage boys should be focused on the task at hand."
Like winning another state title.
Friday and Saturday, Kohl Center, Madison
FRIDAY DIVISION I SCHEDULE
6:35 p.m. - Germantown (26-0) vs. Oshkosh North (23-3)
8:15 p.m. (approximately) - Mukwonago (22-4) vs. Milwaukee King (22-4)
Championship game at approximately 8:15 p.m.
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