The first words out of Whitefish By girls basketball coach Greg Capper's mouth following the Blue Dukes' dramatic 58-57 road win over host Germantown Friday night were this:
"That's exactly the way we drew it up."
And returning NOW All-Suburban center and author of the winning baseline three-pointer with two seconds to go Maya Jonas, mostly agreed with her coach's assessment.
"It was actually to look for anyone that was open," she said of the play that began with just 8.9 seconds to go and Germantown up 57-55. "...and when I let it go I thought it was way short and then (when it went in) I went 'Oh my and thought we can't let them pick up the ball and score!'"
Germantown could only get off a rushed half-court heave at the buzzer.
Bay guard Ava Stock, who inbounded the ball to Jonas, never had a doubt.
"We can always count on Maya," she said with a laugh.
And the rest of the Blue Dukes are now happy that is the case because Jonas was actually playing only her third game of the season for Bay (6-2 in the North Shore and 9-6 overall) after undergoing knee surgery back in May.
"The funny thing was," Jonas said. "For the longest time all I could do was practice my three-point shooting because I couldn't take part in any contact drills. This (the shot and the win) makes up for a lot of time off."
"But I tell you, I couldn't have done it without the support of my teammates. No way I could have made it back (through all the rehab) without them."
"She worked just so hard," said Stock.
And because of Jonas' work and because of her return, the Blue Dukes now have a critical North Shore win that keeps them just a game back of North Shore leader Cedarburg (7-1, 10-3) which was a winner over Grafton tonight. Meanwhile, Germantown fell to 5-3 and 11-4 overall.
"...We just wanted to give ourselves a chance," said Capper, "and we wanted it in the hands in one of our best three outside shooters (including Stock and Jonas). I tell you, these kids worked so hard in preparation for this game. It meant a lot that they could absorb the energy and handle the hoopla."
"It was they who staying calm in the huddle, saying 'One (play) at a time, one at a time'"
"Going down the stretch I felt good about my composure. I hope they felt the same way."
The game was a stark turn of events from an early season rout the Blue Dukes had visited upon Germantown and was a vast offensive improvement for Bay from Jan. 11 when border rival Nicolet held it to just 24 points in Jonas' return.
"We'd been working on our response to their press all week," said Jonas of the Warhawks' fast-paced pressure and turnover-based attack. "I tell you it was a lot more fun playing that way than the way we did last week."
For Warhawk coach Matt Stuve it was a frustrating turn of events. His team had trailed the Blue Dukes since early in the first quarter by as much as 11 before eventually tieing the game at 55-all on Taylor Higginbotham's three-pointer with 2 minutes to go.
Both teams subsequently squandered attempts to take the lead, until the Warhawks Courtney Mehring hit one of two free throws with 47 seconds left. Bay then missed three close-in shots before Higginbotham made one of two free throws with 13 seconds to go to give Germantown a 57-55 advantage.
"We kept attacking and attacking," said Germantown coach Matt Stuve, "but if we hit a few more free throws we could have had a four-point lead (down those final seconds) and that's a lot easier to defend than a two-point advantage."
"We just opened the door for them a little bit."
Which Stock and Jonas were happy to step through.
Germantown would hit only 10 of 17 free throws on the night as opposed to seven of 10 for Bay.
The Warhawks were led by Mehring with 16 points as Higginbotham had 14 points, all in the second half, and Bridget Kelley seven.
"It would have been human nature to hang our heads after being down for so long," said Stuve, "but the kids kept fighting back even as the margin grew wider."
"And I can't enough about the play of Taylor (Higginbotham) in the second half. She just put us on her back. She just willed us back and was the best player of the floor."
...If we play with that fourth quarter intensity like we did tonight all the time, we'll be hard to beat."
Capper, Jonas and company would like to keep that same status for themselves. The Blue Dukes were led by forward Ashley Reed with 19 points, while Abi Harper had 11, Paige Kerwin 10 and Jamie Talbert and Jonas six each.
"You've got to be careful about poking your head out of the foxhole," said Capper of his team's narrow escape, "because this conference is just so tough right now."
"If we keep having total team efforts like this, we should be in good shape," said Jonas.
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