Everyone knows the future of the Menomonee Falls High School girls basketball team rests in the hands of three talented freshman, and those kids, Kylie Sprecher, Madison Grzesiak and Marissa Igunbor, have all lived up to their hype at certain points in this reloading season for the Indians.
But there are also good things that can happen in the here and now, and for that, you need senior leadership, such as what 5-11 post Erin Otzelberger provided this past week as the Indians beat West Allis Hale, 54-42, on Friday after edging Brookfield East, 46-45, in a wild finish on Feb. 11.
"She was everything this past week," Indians coach Craig Amundson said after his team increased its modest win streak to three games.
"Her stat line was amazing, but she did so many things that you just don't have categories in the stat box for," veteran Falls assistant Joe Ewing said. "Like the number of screens she sets, and the right passes that she makes when the ball goes into the post. Any success we have in the upcoming (WIAA) tourney will be largely dependent on seniors like her."
With the two wins, the Indians improved to 8-10 overall and 6-5 in the Greater Metro Conference.
They have a rugged schedule this week. The Indians took on arch-rival Sussex Hamilton on Tuesday, and then they visit powerful Brookfield Central at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
WIAA sectional seeding meetings are also this weekend.
The Indians outscored Hale, 22-14, in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Huskies on Friday as Otzelberger scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had three steals.
"We also did a very nice job of hitting free throws down the stretch," Amundson said. "We tried to stretch the floor and open it up a bit and we were able to get to the foul line as a result. We were able to make it comfortable."
The Indians also got 12 points from Igunbor as a total nine players scored.
The victory over East was unexpected, as Falls took a 25-17 advantage at the break, only to have the Spartans tie it up at 33 going into the fourth quarter.
"We were always up by just a little bit," Amundson said.
The finish was harrowing, however, as the Indians had the lead by one point and the ball with 14 seconds to go but then turned it over. East got a couple of shots at the basket before the ball eventually went out of bounds to Falls.
Amundson said there were several factors in earning the victory.
"It was funny, we had more turnovers than them," he said. "They hit 15-of-19 free throws, and they out-rebounded us. But what helped is that their turnovers almost always led to baskets for us. We were able to cash in. It was a case of good defense leading to offense.
Furthermore, in the tense finish, the usually emotional Amundson said that another longtime assistant, Brian Kirt, did a nice job of keeping him calm.
"We have a really nice working relationship, and it really paid off that night," Amundson said. "He (Kirt) gets a lot of credit for that one."
Igunbor scored 20 points for the Indians, while Otzelberger stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and five steals. Hannah Matthiesen helped out with 10 points.
"It's good to have a little momentum," Amundson said.
- Menomonee Falls claims baseball title as team
- Putting in the effort: Menomonee Falls baseball team wins second state title
- Roble pitches Menomonee Falls baseball team into state title game
- Baseball: Behind marvelous day by Ty Weber, Menomonee Falls baseball repeats as state champion
- Roble pitches Menomonee Falls baseball team into state final, 6-0
- Live coverage: 2016 WIAA State Summer Baseball Tournament
- GMC set to dominate state summer baseball tournament
- 'Two more wins': Menomonee Falls baseball team heads back to state
- Menomonee Falls baseball team heads back to state with upset of West
- Menomonee Falls baseball team to have Weber for tourney run