Muskego downs Lasers in girls basketball game
Defense leads way in victory over Kettle Moraine
Muskego - The first cut wasn't the deepest for the Muskego girls basketball team, not in the team's 50-36 victory over Kettle Moraine on Friday night, nor in the team's first go-round through the Classic 8 Conference.
After starting the year 0-3 in league play, the Warriors are back to even at 3-3 after holding control over much of the league battle with the visiting Lasers.
KM struck very quickly with consecutive baskets to take a 5-0 lead, then the Warriors held KM to four points over the next 12-plus minutes en route to a 17-11 lead that slowly built as the rest of the night wore on.
"We've been keeping that defensive pressure and playing solid man-to-man defense in the half court," Muskego coach Brian Hirtz said. "We were using our height inside with Renee (Bennett). We weren't hitting jump shots early and were able to get it inside and to the free throw line, and Renee was huge for us. They really took it to heart that, hey, our shots aren't falling right now, so let's get it to the rim."
Bennett scored five straight points in an 8-0 run that helped the Warriors take a 29-21 lead in the final moments of the third quarter and make it a 36-21 edge early in the fourth. Jessica Cattani scored seven of her team-high 15 points in the home stretch that followed.
"I thought we've really picked up our D this year; that's the best defensive game we played all year so far," Bennett said. "We were just a little more calm knowing we had the lead (in the second half). It was easier for us to pass the ball around a little more."
After a meat-grinder schedule that featured early losses to league front-runners Waukesha West, Mukwonago and Arrowhead, the Warriors have righted the ship and now sit at 5-5 overall.
"You never like to be below .500 and lose the first three in a brand new conference," Hirtz said. "I'm proud of the kids and the way they responded. They're taking care of little things that were hurting us and starting to do those things properly, and it's leading to some victories."
Bennett finished with 12 points.
"We know we're a good team and have some talent," she said. "We knew we'd get back into it."
Emma Melotik had 13 points for a KM team that was playing with its full roster for the first time this season.
"Their senior leadership is very evident," KM coach Janine Emmer said of the Warriors.
Classic 8 play continues for Muskego with a game at Waukesha South at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11. The Warriors will then take on their former Southeast Conference rival, Oak Creek, at home at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 15.
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