Whitefish Bay girls made most of this season
State berth was the ultimate reward for girls basketball squad
Whitefish Bay — When he was on the podium in the press room trying to analyze what had happened in his team's WIAA State Division 2 semifinal loss to Luxemburg-Casco, Whitefish Bay girls basketball coach Greg Capper was not going to get caught up in a game of thinking too much about the future.
About the promise of such players like freshman center and All-North Shore Conference selection Maya Jonas or sophomore point guard Elisabeth Johnston.
He knew that he his 21-6 team may have caught lightning in a bottle this season, but he knows exactly how far everyone has come.
"I remember a game four years ago where we couldn't even get the ball across midcourt against Grafton," he said. "Just what a great, great boost for the program. We heard just such great stories from everyone about what a great experience it was for the high school kids and that how all week seventh and eighth graders were out shooting in their driveways in the cold until their hands were numb.
"Just terrific stuff like that. No, you can't expect this to happen every year. You have to be practical and realistic about these things, about how hard it is (to get to state).
"But in the big picture, what a great, great thing for the program."
The scrappy Blue Dukes overwhelmed no one this year. They started the season 4-3, including a very bad smackdown by eventual Division 1 state champ Nicolet, but they built from there and wound up winning 12 of their final 14 games.
Capper was fond of saying that Bay was capable of playing any kind of ball fast or slow, offensive or defensive, but the truth of the matter was, was that this team thrived on slow-grinding defensive battles, where they just exerted their will at the end.
Wins such as 33-29 over Homestead, 37-28 over Grafton, 30-29 over Brown Deer in a regional final and the critical one, the 44-42 WIAA sectional final victory over defending state Division 2 champ New Berlin Eisenhower that propelled them to state were all part and parcel of the ride.
"This wasn't a fluke," said Bay's John Gustavson, who was a highly successful coach of the Nicolet girls team in the 1990s. "They just kept pushing all year. They didn't have to be the best team out there all year. They just had to win that game in front of them and they were very good at doing that."
And there was something else at work here too, something Johnston touched upon.
"We just had such good chemistry all year along," she said. "We were all really close and we knew that we had a chance to reach our potential together, by playing our best basketball together. …We just grew together. We knew we could handle almost anything as a team."
FINAL RECORD: 21-6 (best since 2005)
SENIORS: Theresa Schumaker, Ally Spiroff, Katie Sullivan, Leslie Fuda, Jessica Switzer.
SIGNIFICANT LOSSES: Of the Blue Dukes six defeats, two were at the hands of WIAA state D1 champ Nicolet, another at the hand of state D3 qualifier Dominican and finally the loss to eventual state D2 runner-up LC, which entered the state semifinal as the top-ranked team in the state.
NSC NOTE: So dominant was Nicolet in the North Shore this year that the Knights put four players on the league's first-team. Only Bay's Jonas broke into the group. She averaged 10.7 ppg. and 6.3 rebounds and she also had 37 assists, 29 steals and 38 blocks. Johnston averaged 9.6 ppg. (61 steals and 55 assists) while Switzer tossed in 6.8 and Fuda 6.3 (25 three-pointers) for the Blue Dukes.
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- Bay earns three All-Suburban football honors
- West girls beat Dominican, 38-36
- Sports Wrapups: Nov. 26
- Tall, experienced Bay basketball team aiming for another good season
- Sports Shorts: Nov. 21
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- Whitefish Bay 200 free relay places fifth at state
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