Germantown girls basketball set numerous records

Team claims first league crown in 41 years

Germantown   guard Erika Berry helped the Warhawks set a school record with 19 wins and their first league title in 41 years.

Germantown guard Erika Berry helped the Warhawks set a school record with 19 wins and their first league title in 41 years. Photo By Scott Ash

April 1, 2014

"High expectations are a good thing."

Germantown girls basketball coach Matt Stuve said that in a conversation with District Administrator Jeff Holmes, who was congratulating him on the fine season the team had this winter.

Now Stuve will consider high expectations a regular thing to deal with as no longer will the Warhawks women be considered easy pickings.

In short, it was an historic year for the team.

The team had its first conference title in 41 years and its first WIAA regional title in 21, and a school record 19 victories ("I was getting sick of 18," laughed Stuve).

Play style helped

It was sparked by the second year of a high-pressure, high-intensity style of play that produced a crazy-prolific offense that averaged averaged an impressive 71.9 points a game and was on par with that of eventual state runner-up Superior. The Warhawks once put up 101 shots in a win over Milwaukee Lutheran.

"I think we beat Superior for highest scoring team in the state," said Stuve, "and you just don't do that without talented kids. I think about it, it's four months from the beginning to the end of the season and it went by very quickly. I attribute that to the kids working hard and having fun. If you don't have that it can get pretty dreary."

And the Warhawks were anything but dreary, running, pressing and attacking at will in the second year of the Grinnell-style of format that features many 3-pointers (216 on the season), many 2-point baskets (422), many more 2-point attempts (1,099) and an almost absurd number of 3-point tries (861). The Warhawks were even 305 out of 565 from the foul line.

The admitted numbers man Stuve even had to laugh when he looked at the data.

"The kids got a little more used to the system and were a little more comfortable with it," he said. "But what I liked is that they just went about their business and competed extremely hard. It was an exciting year playing some big teams (D3 state champ Kettle Moraine Lutheran and Classic 8 champion Arrowhead).

"We never came out flat. Some days we weren't perfect offensively, but it wasn't for a lack of intensity."

The Warhawks used an 11-person rotation swapped in and out in about 1:30 increments, so there were many chances for people to prove themselves.

Defense picked up

That was true even on the defensive end, where the Warhawks really picked it up.

"I'm a big fan of 'points per possession' defensively," he said, "and we were the most efficient we've been on defense in five years."

Germantown also upped the ante in terms of schedule. In addition to KML and Arrowhead (to which they lost twice), the team also took part in the Rathke Invitational at Franklin and it will pick up 2013 state D1 champ Milwaukee Riverside next year.

The team got the North Shore season off to a tremendous start beating leading contenders Whitefish Bay (82-77) and Cedarburg (75-64) and then they took care of business with the rest of the conference slate.

Even a crazy, one-point loss to Bay in the second half of the league season couldn't stop them from winning that championship, the first since 1973.

"This was a real tribute to the kids," said Stuve.

First-team All-North Shore selection Taylor Higginbotham averaged 13.9 points per game, setting a school record with 93 steals and draining 47 3-pointers. She would have the school record for 3-pointers, but senior guard Erika Berry beat her on that with 48. Berry, a second-team all-league performer averaged 8.9 ppg and had a will that was second to none despite standing only 5 feet, 2 inches. She was second on the team with 74 steals.

"Just a relentless competitor," said Stuve of Berry.

Stuve also noted that Higginbotham was gracious enough to sacrifice some of her numbers for the good of the system and the good of the team. "You may really get to see how talented she is next year," he said.

Fellow second-team all-league choice Bridget Kelley was an under-sized post at 5-9, but she still averaged 11 ppg and set a school record with a 57 percent field goal percentage (116 out of 205). She also led the team in rebounds with 160 (6.4 per game).

Led by seven seniors

The team had seven seniors, six of whom were in the regular rotations. Among those, point guard Paige Groth (7 ppg, team-high 88 assists and fourth on the team with 35 3-pointers), and top defenders Amy Flasch (58 assists, 77 deflections and 42 steals) and Sarah Bartel (second in deflections with 104 and third in steals with 55) stood out.

Seniors included Groth, Berry, Miska Cantley, Shelby Petta, Flasch, Bartel and Kelley.

"With six seniors in our top rotation, we won't be as deep and we'll have to figure out new ways to shuffle kids in and out," said Stuve. "It never fails, I was in next year mode just after the season ended (a sectional semifinal loss to Arrowhead) and I have some new ideas to play around with already."

The depth issue may come around quicker than Stuve thought. The junior varsity was 19-3 including 14-0 in conference and the freshmen were 19-0 and beat squads from Arrowhead and DSHA in the process.

Which brings us back to Stuve's recent conversation with Holmes.

"When he congratulated me, I realized I had more pressure on me," said Stuve, "and that's not a bad thing."

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