Warhawks boys get defensive in clinching sixth NSC title
Team working for top sectional seed
They were routs that the 18-0 top-ranked in the state, seventh-ranked in the country Germantown boys basketball team have become accustomed to in recent years, those two easy wins over Cedarburg and Milwaukee Lutheran last week.
But they had a strong degree of significance, too, as they helped the Warhawks earn their first major goal of the season: their sixth North Shore Conference title in seven years and fourth in a row.
"It's always goal number one," Warhawks coach Steve Showalter said. "Tuesday (Jan. 29 over Cedarburg) was for the share and Friday (over Lutheran) was for the outright (title). It (the NSC crown) never loses its importance."
That's because of the one that got away in the 2008-09 season, when a mighty All-Suburban guard Jimmy Sherburne-led Whitefish Bay team coupled with a Warhawks upset in Port Washington put Germantown in second place in center Ben Averkamp's senior year.
Averkamp, who is Germantown's second all-time leading scorer behind Zak Showalter, is finishing up a stellar career at Loyola-Chicago, where he has moved into 17th place all-time on the school career scoring list with more than 1,300 points and where he continues to do the Warhawks and the Ramblers honor by earning all kinds of academic awards as well (see Heat Index elsewhere in this issue).
Germantown later made up for the conference stumble that year by earning its second WIAA state tournament berth in a row, but coach Showalter is still bothered by the miss in league play.
"It still rankles a little," he said.
Just a little.
That's because the defending state Division 1 champs improved their year-plus winning streak to 46 with last week's victories. They are heading into the home stretch of the regular season. They had their final major nonconference battle of the season on Tuesday against state Division 2 power Wisconsin Lutheran (see Germantown NOW.com for details) and now entertain Port Washington at 7:30 p.m. Friday and visit area nonconference rival Hartford at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
The WIAA sectional seeding meetings are this coming weekend and the Warhawks are a slam dunk to get the top seed in the Homestead sectional.
What coach Showalter was most pleased about last week was that Germantown showed no sign of letdown after the major nonconference win over defending state Division 4 champion Dominican on Jan. 26.
"We had been seriously committed to that game (Dominican), had really looked forward to it, but we also knew that we had to get back to work, too," he said.
And that they did. Perhaps inspired by the high-scoring exploits of the Warhawks girls (see From the Pressbox), Germantown "sent a message" in the words of Showalter and scored 36 points in the first quarter of the 94-44 hammering of Lutheran on Friday.
Point guard LaMonte Bearden had a quarter for the ages then, with 15 points, five assists and five steals in the eight-minute session.
It was 61-27 at the half. Germantown had eight 3-pointers in the game by six different players as center Luke Fischer finished with 18 points while Bearden had 16, Dearionte Hudson 11, Brian Bearden and Jordan Kuczynski nine apiece and Jake Showalter eight.
On Jan. 29, it was the defense that carried the day for the Warhawks, as they limited Cedarburg to just 19 points through three quarters in a 79-35 victory. It was 58-19 after three periods.
A total of 12 players scored that night led by Jake Showalter with 16 while Fischer had 13, LaMonte Bearden 10 and Evan Wesenberg eight.
"Both games we came out guns-a-blazing," coach Showalter said. "It was a lot of offense, but also the defense came along for the ride, too. The defense is now turning it up and we're getting a lot out of it, especially our defense from top-of-the-key to top-of-the-key. That's much better now. We're able to force people into bad shots and having the big guy (Fischer) back there helps a lot, too."
- Steven L. Tietz
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