Germantown girls get help, can clinch first league title in 41 years Friday

Warhawks face Homestead on senior night

Feb. 16, 2014

Forty-one years of frustration is this close to being erased permanently.

Tweet lines and text messages told the story Friday night for the Germantown girls basketball team. The Warhawks, as expected, routed Nicolet, 76-26, to guarantee at least a share of the North Shore Conference lead heading into the pivotal final two weeks of the regular season.

But then the message came over the wire, Cedarburg had upset Whitefish Bay, 62-50, knocking the Blue Dukes out of the lead they shared with the Warhawks.

That means, if Germantown beats Homestead at 7:30 p.m. Friday on the Warhawks' senior night, at least a share of the first conference title since the last of three straight in the early days of girls sports in 1973 will be in hand.

"You teach kids that it's good to share, but some things you don't want to share," chuckled a pleased Warhawks coach Matt Stuve. "What this means in the short run if the kids are not already focused on this week (Homestead), this will certainly get our attention. Now the focus is the task at hand."

Germantown enters the game at 11-1 in league and 15-5 overall while Bay is 10-2 and 15-3, respectively. The Blue Dukes still have NSC games with Port Washington on Friday and Homestead on Feb. 27. Germantown closes its regular season at Port Washington on Feb. 27.

The Warhawks can't take Homestead (7-5, 11-7) for granted. They built a huge lead on them in a Jan. 10 game at the Highlander field house only to have Homestead rally and force overtime before Germantown survived with a 62-60 decision.

"We'll just focus on the things we need to do to keep things going," Stuve said.

Germantown had no such problems with Nicolet, breaking out to a 25-7 first quarter lead and then never looking back. A total of 10 players scored led by Taylor Higginbotham with 16 points (including four 3-pointers), while Erika Berry (three 3s), Val Meissner (three 3s) and Bridget Kelley all had 11 points apiece and Paige Groth and Shelby Petta tossed in eight points each.

Stuve liked the effort after the tough, 66-55, nonconference loss to area rival and state power kettle Moraine Lutheran on Feb. 11.

"Losing in a situation like that can be a good thing as long as you don't forget the lessons you learn in the loss," Stuve said. "KML wasn't that much bigger than us, but they exposed us on the boards. They really got after it. We did a much better job with that against Nicolet.

"You limit opponents' free throws and second chances you give yourself a pretty good chance."

Against Nicolet, Higginbotham added five steals and four rebounds, while Meissner had six assists and Calli Lemke grabbed six rebounds.

Germantown actually took an 18-9 lead in the first quarter on KML, but then the Chargers roared back to take a 28-26 lead at the break and outscored the Warhawks 38-29 in the second half. KML hit 20-of-31 free throws as opposed to just eight of 18 for Germantown.

Berry had 13 points for Germantown while Groth had 10 and Meissner eight.

"They also showed us that we had to get better defensively," Stuve said. "We gave up the middle of the floor too much and they did such a good job of reversing the ball. It was good that we had a game like this. We hadn't had a tough conference game in awhile so it was good to see that caliber of competition."

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