For the third time this season the Homestead boys basketball team gave defending WIAA Division 1 state champion Germantown a battle, but for the third time, the Warhawks’ size and length proved too much.
Top-seeded Germantown had a 17-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and never looked back in defeating fourth-seeded Homestead, 70-44, in a regional final Saturday in front of a standing-room-only crowd.
“We did what we had to do to take care of this team,” Germantown coach Steve Showalter said. “Nothing was easy. We had some spurts where things weren’t going right.”
The Warhawks (24-0) notched their 52nd straight win, a streak that dates back to the 2011-12 season. The win earned them a spot in the sectional semifinals Thursday against No. 3 seed Arrowhead at Waukesha West.
If a first quarter can turn a game one way or another, the Warhawks made it count, holding the Highlanders to just 1 of 11 shooting. As they have done all season, Germantown used its size and length.
“Defense has been our focus and with (senior center) Luke Fischer behind us, it makes things easier for everyone,” Germantown junior Jon Averkamp said.
Averkamp’s defense on Homestead leading scorer Luke Worthington also played a big part in keeping the Highlanders (15-9) out of rhythm offensively as Worthington had just six points.
“Shutting him down was my job tonight, but having Luke behind me helped a lot,” Averkamp said. “I was just fronting him and trying to get a touch on every pass that was thrown to him.”
Worthington only had one shot during the second and third quarters combined and was not as effective after he picked up his third foul late in the second quarter.
Homestead was able to get decent looks, but could not knock them down and was kept off the boards by Averkamp and Fischer.
“We had a lot of good looks that we don’t normally miss,” Homestead coach Kevin McKenna said. “I liked our looks. They just didn’t drop. It’s one of those things.”
Sam Kaegi and Quinton Sampson-Wood led Homestead with eight points each, while Jake Laihinen added seven points.
Fischer was a presence at the rim on defense and also scored a game-high 20 points, 10 of which came in the third quarter when the Warhawks broke the game open.
“Normally (Averkamp) is our defensive guy,” Showalter said. “For him to be able to do what he did defensively, then to be able to get 12 points, that’s a great night for him.”
Averkamp scored eight of his 12 points in the third quarter, finding the touch on his mid-range jumper.
“They were going to double Luke, so I had it open at the top of the key,” Averkamp said. “I was able to hit a few.”
Getting another scorer to go along with Fischer in the postseason could be big for Germantown. The Warhawks got 14 points from junior Lamonte Bearden and Averkamp’s production can only help.
“We were forcing them to make the tough shots and we knew if we did that we were playing good defense,” Fischer said. “(Averkamp) came through for us. Usually he doesn’t get his scoring. Tonight was a different story. He was crashing the boards and finishing and-one layups.”
While the Warhawks are advancing, the Highlanders’ season ends. For McKenna, who finished his first year with the program, he was nothing but proud of his team and six seniors.
“They came into a tough situation,” McKenna said of the seniors. “They’ve had three coaches in their high school career. They came in with high expectations and never lost sight of them. I’ll be forever thankful for that and for those guys.”