Whitefish Bay more competitive but still short of powerful Warhawks
Blue Dukes now tied for second in NSC
Whitefish Bay - The last squad to stop Germantown from winning at least a share of the North Shore conference title was the Blue Dukes, back in 2009.
The only squad with a real shot at stopping Germantown from winning a fourth consecutive North Shore championship this year was again the Blue Dukes.
After the Warhawks handed the Blue Dukes a third conference loss last Friday night in Bay, the 73-60 victory put the Warhawks in the driver's seat once again. At 9-0 in conference play, 14-0 overall, the Warhawks are now three games up on all comers with just five games to play and the streak of conference titles isn't the only one Germantown has going.
Friday night's win was the 42nd in a row for Germantown overall and 40th in a row in conference play. Widely regarded as the best division one team in the state, Germantown hasn't faced defeat since March 15th, 2011.
On an individual basis, senior forward and Indiana recruit Luke Fischer extended his streak of double digit scoring performances that includes the entire calendar year of 2012. Fischer had his ten points by the midway point and scored 27 on the night.
A slow start for the Warhawks
The contest proved highly competitive as the two teams exchanged early three-point baskets and big defensive stops. The first quarter had over a dozen lead changes or ties and it took Fisher more than five minutes to score his first bucket against the staunch Whitefish Bay defense.
Making up for the slow start from Fischer was junior forward Even Wesenberg, scoring seven first quarter points to take the pressure off his teammates. Wesenberg didn't slow down in the second period either and his fast break steal, finished off with two-handed dunk, was the highlight of an assertive Warhawk mid-quarter run.
That run, along with Fischer finding a few more goals, put Germantown multiple possessions free of the Blue Dukes in the closing moments of the first half. Wesenberg had 15 of his 17 total points in the first half to help the Warhawks lead, 33-23, at halftime.
It isn't all bad news for Whitefish Bay - after all, they aren't the first team Germantown has handled this year. The Blue Dukes fell to 6-3 in the conference and 11-5 overall but have managed a solid regular season to this point and will be a team to watch in the WIAA division two state tournament.
Sacrificing offense for defense
The game Friday night went better for the Blue Dukes than the previous match-up with Germantown, a 107-65 pasting in November.
The Blue Dukes scored the first four points of the second half, cutting the lead back to single digits on an 8-3 run featuring some wizardry from senior guard Kelin Johnson. Johnson made a cross-over dribble to free himself and score an eight-foot jumper to keep the game close.
Eventually Fisher would match Johnson virtually shot for shot in the third quarter and keep the Warhawks with a comfortable but tepid eight-point advantage going into the last quarter.
"I just wanted to become more aggressive on the court and try to get inside more," Johnson said. "Try to bang with these big guys in the paint. When you have to defend a team like this you have to sacrifice some of your energy from the offensive end, so we just try to balance it out and stay with it."
Fischer and Johnson continued to battle in the fourth quarter, with both players making big baskets back and forth. Unfortunately for the Blue Dukes it wasn't quite enough and the Warhawk machine wore down Whitefish Bay to stretch the lead out for the victory.
The relatively tight game was something that Wesenberg recognized as a positive moving forward for Germantown.
"It will help in the long run when we are playing other tough teams and in the playoffs because it allowed some of our players to step up at the end," Wesenberg said. "We try not to focus on the future games. We focus on who we are playing now and treat it like the most important game of our lives."
The Blue Dukes, who are now tied with Homestead in second in the North Shore, will be at Cedarburg on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
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