Germantown - Germantown boys basketball coach Steve Showalter got what he wanted out of the hair-raising, 66-64, Luke Fischer-inspired nonconference victory over Brookfield Central on Saturday.
It came at the end of a long first week of action for the defending WIAA state champions, as they had also gained a critical step up in a run for a fourth straight North Shore Conference title by beating both prime competitors Homestead (78-62) and Whitefish Bay (107-65).
In this reloading season with many questions, Showalter wasn't certain if he had his team's full attention yet with those surprisingly easy wins.
But thanks to his old coaching friend Mark Adams and the Central Lancers, that little problem has now been solved as Germantown now gets into the meat of its schedule.
'Yeah, I think I might get their attention now (in practice),' Showalter said. 'I think they were thinking that they were pretty good, but they (the Lancers) always play us tough. He's (Adams) had six months and four days to prepare for this one (it was Central's opener) and we had just 24 hours (after the Bay game).'
And all-in-all, Showalter was not entirely unhappy with this opening week, one in which he unveiled a brand new guard line after the graduation of all-state son Zak, Josh Mongan and Zack Kumbier and tried to answer a whole pile of questions about exactly how good this team would be after the 28-0 championship run of a season ago.
'It was great,' he said. 'We got the experience without a loss. It really brought us back to reality. We had to figure out a way to pull out a (close) victory. That's a big positive without having to deal with the big negative (a loss).'
That is something that the Warhawks haven't had to deal with in 31 games. Now Showalter gets some badly coveted practice time this week before hosting Grafton in another North Shore tilt 7:30 p.m. Friday.
The Central game was a bit of an anomaly for Germantown in that the Warhawks built a 16-point second quarter lead, only to have the feisty Lancers, a preseason pick to challenge for the Greater Metro Conference title, roar back, using a big, muscular front line (6-8 and 6-5) to gain some critical rebounds against the taller Germantown squad, which could not get to the line (only four of seven chances as compared to 12 of 17 for the visiting Lancers).
Junior guard Riley LaChance did not hurt matters either for Central with a game-high 32 points as the Lancers packed in a tight zone and the Warhawks, which had won the first two games with a devastating inside-outside combination, could not buy an outside shot in the second half, scoring only nine points in the fourth quarter.
'They killed us on the boards at key times, putbacks and and-ones,' Showalter said, 'while the basket got smaller and smaller in the second half.'
Central only had one brief lead in the second half but Germantown could never put the Lancers away either.
So it came down to a rarely used offensive tactic by the Warhawks after a frenzy of events left the Warhawks with the ball and 40 seconds to go with the score tied at 64.
'We had the ball virtually the entire last minute and we decided to hold it (for the last shot),' Showalter said. 'Dearionte (junior guard Hudson) drove the left side of the lane and threw up an air ball, but Luke (Fischer) grabbed it and threw it up off the backboard off glass and it went in at the buzzer.'
'He reversed it with his left hand. It was kind of neat. It was like the reverse of the Appleton East game (the infamous last-second WIAA Super Sectional defeat in 2011 in Oshkosh, which was Germantown's last loss).'
Those were the last of Fischer's Germantown-high 22 points as Hudson hit four 3-pointers for 12 points and Brian and Lamonte Bearden had 10 points apiece.
'Central just played very well,' Showalter said. '… They also had Riley (LaChance) and we did the best we could against him but we gave him way too many easy ones. And when they (the Lancers) got after the boards, that made it difficult for us to get out and run.'
It was a much different case than on Friday night, when the Warhawks handed a good Bay team (3-1) its first loss of the year in emphatic fashion.
Blue Dukes coach Kevin Lazovik knew it was a calculated risk to try and use his Blue Dukes new, up-tempo style on the defending state champions.
He knew that what worked for a nice rally and win three nights earlier against Nicolet may not work so well against the high-octane Warhawks.
Unfortunately for Lazovik and the Blue Dukes, that was the case and then some, as they were buried under an offensive avalanche from the Warhawks.
Lazovik was astounded by the result because it happened even with the 7-0 all-state Indiana-bound Fischer sitting on the bench for 11 minutes of the first half with foul trouble.
'We're obviously trying to play at a different tempo,' Lazovik said, 'and trying to play at their speed. That was obviously a miscalculation. They're just so tough to defend with their overall size and their ability to shoot.'
It's by design, Showalter said.
'Press, press, press, run, run, run, that's what we do,' Showalter said. 'It looks helter-skelter, but it's not. … There's a method to our madness.'
That high-speed method led to a 55-point first half, despite the fact that Fischer, who had scored 28 points in the Warhawks' opening night win against Homestead on Nov. 27, took a seat with 2:58 left in the first quarter with two fouls and would not return until the start of the third period.
When he sat down, the Warhawks were already well in control at 17-5, having scored the first 13 points of the game, including the first five by Fischer.
His teammates did not let up, stretching the advantage to 25-7 at the end of the first quarter and scoring 30 points in the second period despite Fischer never moving an inch off the bench.
It was 55-27 at the half, as Germantown hit 10-of-13 shots in the first quarter and 19 of 33 for the first 16 minutes.
'It's going to come up from time-to-time this season,' Showalter said. 'We need to be able to take one guy out of the lineup (with injuries or fouls), maybe two and still do what we do. Our team is clearly more than one or two guys.
'So when we run nine or 10 guys in (in a quarter or half), it's clearly to our benefit.'
Lazovik, who had another good team last year that was run out of Dodge by the Warhawks, said this game was like looking in a mirror.
'It was like Yogi Berra said, 'it was déjà vu all over again,' ' Lazovik said.
The lead never came close to dropping below 20 in the second half.
Jake Showalter finished with 24 points, including four 3-pointers, to lead all scorers. His father, Steve, was pleased with his aggressiveness.
Jake Showalter was one of six Germantown players in double figures, as Lamonte Bearden had 14 and Brian Bearden came off the bench for 10.
Starting forwards 6-6 Jon Averkamp (11 points) and 6-7 Evan Wesenberg (10) also got into the act while Fischer still broke into double figures with 15 points despite limited minutes, including two powerful crowd-pleasing dunks at the end of the third quarter.
Reserve forward Cole Karcz added nine points.
'I've been thinking about this (past) week for six months,' coach Showalter said. 'We usually are able to get a nonconference game in beforehand, but then the scheduling changed.
'Looking back, this week turned out to be a great thing, but it wasn't when I had to think about it a lot (laughs).'
WHO: The Warhawks are at home against Grafton (2-1) on Friday and then head to Cedarburg on Dec. 11 for their first road game against the Bulldogs (3-2). Both North Shore Conference games are at 7:30 p.m.
HOMESTEAD DETAILS:The Highlanders scored 11 unanswered points to take a 16-14 lead at the quarter and were still up 18-16 early in the second period when the Warhawks took control with a 20-4 run as Fischer had 10 of his 17 first half points in the second session. Germantown closed the half on an 8-0 run to make it 36-22. Homestead made one last strong push, going on a 12-0 run early in the third quarter to cut it to 39-34, but then Germantown went on a 9-2 run to make it 48-36. The advantage never dropped below eight again as Fischer had seven blocks to go with his game-high scoring. Jake Showalter added 24 points while Dearionte Hudson, Lamonte Bearden and Wesenberg all had seven points each. Coach Showalter thought that Averkamp did a great job defensively on the Highlanders' BYU recruit Luke Worthington (just nine points).