In Germantown girls basketball coach Matt Stuve's eyes, it just didn't matter that four Whitefish Bay players, including three starters, fouled out Friday.
Because Bay's 6-2 senior guard/center Maya Jonas was still on the floor at the end of the Blue Dukes' improbable 71-70 overtime rally over the Warhawks that put the two teams in a flat-footed tie for the North Shore Conference lead.
"In the end, she was the only one they needed," said Stuve, referring to Jonas, a Northwestern University recruit. "She was tired at the end, but great players get it done. They push beyond what their brain is telling them and just do what it takes."
Jonas finished the night with 27 points, 21 of them in the second half and overtime, as Bay rallied from a 37-25 third quarter deficit to win its 10th game in a row and improve to 7-1 in North Shore play and 11-2 overall while Germantown fell to 7-1 and 11-4, respectively.
"I just came to play," Jonas said.
Bay coach Dave Markson knows what he has in the four-year letterwinner Jonas ("Its a great comfort having someone of that caliber that you can rely on," he said), but he didn't want to sell short the rest of the team, many of whom stepped up after starters Emma Jonas, Ashley Reed and Kaitlyn Jackson fouled out.
"I tell you, we had some unlikely line-ups out there," said Markson. "With 60 percent of the starters out (due to fouls) we found a way. This team just has something. Whoever we put out there, just did the work."
Names like junior forwards Maggie Brennan and Emma Jankowski and senior swing-player Catie McBride, the only other senior on the team, tripped off the tongue of Markson in describing the effort as Bay sought to come back from that 12-point deficit with about 5:33 left in the third quarter.
"We try not to get our heads down because we know each game has its ups and downs," said Maya Jonas.
It was deep-bench reserve Brennan who filled in when the starting forward Reed was in foul trouble and who would hit some critical late free throws,
And it was Jankowski who would hit six of nine free throws, including a critical five of six in the fourth quarter and overtime to help salt the game away.
Then it was McBride, who Markson calls the team's "Swiss Army knife", who rebounded Maya Jonas' missed jumper and put it in with two seconds left in regulation to tie the score at 58-all.
"I just had to bring as much energy as i could," said McBride. "...I'm just trying to go out there and do my part. ...I knew Maya was going to shoot (on that final play in regulation) so I just had to make sure I got the rebound."
McBride's putback completed a wild fourth quarter, one that saw Germantown start out with a two-point lead and then saw Bay rally for a a 54-48 advantage with 1:32 remaining.
But Germantown, which had earned its North Shore lead on the strength of its frantic, high-tempo Grinnell-style of up-tempo basketball, was not out of it yet. Two Erika Berry free throws helped cut the lead to 55-54 with 33 seconds left.
McBride hit one of two free throws to make it 56-54 Bay with 28 seconds to go, but then Warhawk wing Taylor Higginbotham hit the Warhawks' first 3-pointer since early in the third quarter to give Germantown a 57-56 advantage with 18 seconds left.
Germantown was in even better shape when Mackenzie Schmitz stole the subsequent Bay inbound pass. The Warhawks' Amy Flasch then hit one of two free throws to make it 58-56 Germantown with 14 seconds remaining.
Maya Jonas, who by this time was bringing up the ball all the time for the Blue Dukes, then swung herself onto the left wing for a try at a tieing hoop. Her contested jumper was off the mark, but the 5-7 McBride was in good position to grab the board and bank it in.
"Catie can just do anything we need, play guard, play post, she's amazing," said Markson.
Bay then almost won it in regulation, when the Blue Dukes stole the inbounds and Jonas' free throw line jumper at the buzzer was just off the mark.
The two teams went back-and-forth for the first part of the overtime, but Bay finally took the lead for good when Brennan hit two free throws with 53 seconds left to make it 68-66 Blue Dukes.
But when the Blue Dukes' Grace Wirth fouled out (the fourth and final player to do so) with 30 seconds left, Germantown was still in it. The teams traded free throws over the next few seconds to make it 69-67 Bay.
Germantown had a chance at the lead but a 3-point attempt was off the mark in the final 10 seconds. There was a tie-up and the possession arrow favored Bay.
Jankowski was fouled with six seconds remaining and then calmly sank both free throws to make it 71-67 ("Emma is just steady as a rock," said Markson).
The Warhawks' Valerie Meissner then drained an uncontested three at the buzzer for the final score.
It was a frustrating night for Stuve, who also had two key starters foul out in post Bridget Kelley and Higginbotham.
"We had an atrocious night shooting," he said, "and we lost by only one. We have only a poor night and we win that game."
Higginbotham led Germantown with 19 points before she fouled out in the overtime, while Miska Cantley had 10 and Kelley nine. Germantown hit 21 of 35 free throws in the messy turnover and foul-filled affair.
"We're still in first place,' said Stuive. 'We can finish 13-1 (in conference) and still win it. We can still put up a number and get this done."
Meanwhile, the youthful Blue Dukes are happy to be in first with six games still to go on the league slate. Jankowski added 16 for Bay while Reed had eight before she fouled out.
The Bay lockerroom was noisy and exuberent as could be expected.
"This feels so incredible," said Jonas. "To be competing for first place at this point in the season is an amazing feeling. The energy in our lockerroom right now is great. We're very motivated right now."
"To go out and beat a team like that makes us feel ecstatic," said McBride. "We've got some momentum and we're ready to use it."
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