The Germantown girls basketball team went to watch the NCAA Division III power Olivet Nazarene (Ill.) take on Cardinal Stritch University on Jan. 30.
And they came away disappointed because Nazarene is the model upon which Warhawks coach Matt Stuve bases a great many of the team's "shoot and press" tendencies. The Tigers, who came into the game averaging about 101 points a game, lost to area power Stritch by a 96-73 count.
"I told them afterwards, 'See, we're better than them,' " Stuve said with a chuckle.
Especially this week, as in a pair of memorable and astounding efforts for proponents of stupendous girls basketball, the Warhawks rewrote virtually every offensive record there was out there and kept themselves in the North Shore Conference race.
On Jan. 29, Germantown, with Wisconsin's third-best scoring offense, turned the state, not to mention the North Shore Conference, on its ear, when the Warhawks destroyed any number of school and state records with a 98-82 blasting of NSC leader Cedarburg.
Germantown hit 16-of-33 3-pointers in the contest, proving, yes, girls can shoot it if you let them.
So Stuve let the Warhawks do it again on Friday, when they broke even more records, drain ing an even better 17 treys in a 105-56 rout of Milwaukee Lutheran.
"This is the second time through the conference, and teams are trying to find ways to slow us down," Stuve said, "but four games into (the second go-round), we've bettered our score against our opponent each time. Obviously, the kids are playing with a very high level of confidence and we expect to score points, but 98 and 105 points in back-to-back games, that's just something that you really can't plan for.
"All we try to do is be ready for the next opponent."
Moving up standings
With the victories, Germantown stayed in fourth place in the NSC at 7-4 (13-5 overall) while Cedarburg (9-2, 13-4) held a precarious one game lead over both Whitefish Bay and Nicolet (8-4 each). The Warhawks are at Port Washington on Friday.
The crazy thing about the Cedarburg game was that the final score was nowhere as close as the game actually was in the fourth quarter. Germantown actually had a 96-70 lead at one point in the fourth quarter.
That was because the Warhawks had nine shooters combine for an amazing 16-of-33 effort from the 3-point stripe (48 percent). They also went on a second-half tear that must have felt like being caught in a category five hurricane for the host Bulldogs.
"We were down 46-44 with 7:05 left in the third quarter and over the next 13 1/2 minutes we outscored them something like 54-26," Stuve said.
The win not only erased a tough first-half of the season defeat at the hands of the Bulldogs but also eased Germantown's pain of back-to-back wrenching last-possession defeats at the hands of Whitefish Bay and Grafton.
Senior forward Megan ("Maggie") Johnston, who at one point very early this season made the comment that she didn't think very much of this offensive system, is now a full-on believer.
"I mean it's looking great now, especially after last night," said Johnston, who Stuve trusts to tell him the pulse of the team, because Johnston is famous for saying what she thinks when she thinks it. "It was like 'Oh my God.' In the first half, we weren't making a lot of threes, but then we started making more of them in the second half and that let us be more aggressive on defense."
Turnovers key for team
Because along with averaging about eight treys a game, the Warhawks also average a forced turnover rate of about 27 a contest.
"And we were actually a little bit below that (against Cedarburg)," Stuve said.
Records for team scoring and 3-point makes are hard to come by (Germantown's previous high this season for threes was an almost-as-impressive 14) and no doubt there have been other girls teams that have scored more than 100 points in a game, but there is no question that these Warhawks have made history.
Because it is very doubtful that any basketball program in the state in the last decade had a better girls single game score (105) and boys single game score (107 vs. Whitefish Bay) combined (212) than what has been achieved by Germantown this year.
And what of the opinion of the coach of that 18-0, defending state champion boys Germantown team?
"I didn't hear about it until Wednesday (Jan. 30)," Steve Showalter said of the girls' effort against Cedarburg, "and when I did I was surprised and impressed. I think that was the first time that they've outscored us this season, and I bet you could check statewide scoring and you wouldn't find a school that has both teams averaging over 75 points a game like ours."
The boys beat Cedarburg that night by a 79-35 count and were outscored again by the girls on Friday despite a 94-44 rout of Lutheran.
There is a small, but growing wing of coaches statewide who are now seeing that this "shoot and press" system, all of which is based off the now famous Grinnell (Iowa) College program, as a way to succeed against the more defensive-minded, more physical programs out there.
And frankly, what kid wouldn't want to play a system that is this much fun?
Catering to strengths
"The reason we do it, is because it plays to the strengths of our kids," Stuve said. "We have athletic kids who get to fly up and down the court for 32 minutes, but it does have its limitations. After I got home the other night (after Cedarburg), my wife, who was a tennis player, asked 'Don't you guys ever play defense?'
"Go to our locker room sometime and see how many blank stares you get when you ask that question. It's just a different focus. We just try to create more shots. They (the Bulldogs) shot 51 percent the other night but we put up over 80 shots.
"… Everyone is looking for a little help now (trying to win games). We just happen to work a lot on shooting drills."
And that's the truth.
"I've watched a little of their practices," Showalter said, "and I know how much they work on shooting. They get into it (the offense) and get off shots, which as everybody knows, is something I like (laughs)."
Other advantages include playing time.
Players rotate in five at a time, almost every minute and 13 of the 15-player roster are in those top rotations. Rotations are charted for efficiency. The games went so well last week that even the last players on the bench, the ones who work hard making the others better, got in many good minutes.
There are purists out there who say it isn't real basketball, that too much emphasis is placed on scoring.
Stuve, Johnston and their friends are diplomatic and just say "Try it, you may just like it!"
"I know there are people out there who are kind of upset with the way we play," Johnston said, "but we just went all out and beat the number one team in our conference (by a lot), and we should have won other games, too. … When we play with energy, we're kind of hard to beat."
Another thing about the system is that it is vastly entertaining. Seeing as it was a Tuesday night road game with a home boys game to compete against, the crowd for Germantown against Cedarburg was largely made up of a smallish group of parents, but Stuve said by the time the Warhawks were really getting into it early in the fourth quarter (the two teams combined for 66 points in the stanza), it was disproportionately loud on the Germantown side.
"You would have thought that we had a huge student section there the parents were so loud," Stuve said.
"It was awesome," laughed Johnston.
Germantown is well on its way to an excellent regular season finish and a good WIAA tournament seed. Stuve just wants the kids to keep on having fun.
"One of the beauties of the system," he said. "Is that the kids on the bench are just as excited as the kids out there playing, because they know they'll get their chance soon. … The thought is, is that everyone helps the team and hopefully that way the fun can continue."
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