Blue Dukes girls looking forward to Jonas' return as they keep share of NSC lead
All-Suburban center may be back Friday
Whitefish Bay - Back, just inside the door of the Whitefish Bay girls' basketball team's locker room, there's a sign with a series of tear-off dates attached to it.
It says something like this: "Days to Maya's return."
And the very good news for the Blue Dukes is that the return date for the 2012 NOW All-Suburban center Maya Jonas from her knee injury that she suffered last spring is soon, very soon.
"It may be Friday night," said Blue Dukes coach Greg Capper, referring to the home date with Nicolet at the special time of 5:45 p.m. "She's actually been practicing with us in all areas, except contact drills, since Dec. 26. We may get her two to four minutes per quarter, maybe, pending the doctor's appointment she has on Tuesday.
"But she's determined, very determined."
Capper has long lauded the 6-2 Jonas' work ethic ever since the ACL injury that she suffered in the spring seemed to ruin all thoughts of her junior season. He said she has done everything her doctors and physical therapists have asked her to do and then some.
Her return is very welcome, as because of her absence, along with the fact that returning point guard Elisabeth Johnston declined to come out this winter, the defending North Shore tri-champions and WIAA Division 2 sectional finalists started out this campaign a bit behind the eight-ball.
But they have persevered, recovering from a rocky start and a difficult schedule (losses to powers such as Sussex Hamilton and Oak Creek right out of the gate) and after Friday's 45-32 win over Homestead, they are tied with Cedarburg for the North Shore lead at 5-1 (6-5 overall).
The win over Homestead was the first game for the Blue Dukes since before the holiday break.
"We had a little boot camp over the holiday," Capper said. "We went at it a little longer, a little harder (in practice) and the kids really went after it. … We just thought of new ways that we could improve.
"Ways to improve our defense, ways to use our significant height (which will get better with Jonas' return) to rebound better and also taking steps forward in taking care of the ball.
"And as far as our offense is concerned, everyone talks about seeing the forest for the trees, but sometimes you have to see the trees for the forest. It's not a linear game, sometimes the kids just want to go A to B but you also have to be able to go C to D, too. We have to keep expanding our options."
They'll do that this week. They take on Kettle Moraine in a nonconference game on Tuesday before challenging rival Nicolet at home at 5:45 p.m. as the opener of a boys-girls doubleheader. It'll be breast cancer awareness night at the field house.
The event, coordinated with Nicolet, features pink warm-ups for the girls and black for the boys and fundraising buckets will be passed around and available throughout the evening.
Shaking off the rust
It took the Blue Dukes a little time to shake the rust off against Homestead, as it was 8-8 at the end of the quarter and only 19-15 at the half. The defense, which has been carrying the team so far this winter until the offense can catch up, kicked into high gear in the third quarter, holding the Highlanders to only two points, as the lead expanded to 27-17.
In the fourth quarter, the lead got up to 20, said Capper, before some late bombs by the Highlanders' Taylor McIlwraith (three, 3-pointers and 19 points) brought the deficit down to a more manageable level.
Ava Stock led the way for Bay with 12 points while Ashley Reed had nine and Paige Kerwin and Emma Jonas contributed six apiece.
"We did a better job of finding the open person on average tonight," Capper said, "and Ava (Stock) has been very consistent for us. Overall, I'm delighted with our progress."
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