EISENHOWER GIRLS BASKETBALL
The New Berlin Eisenhower girls basketball team extended its winning streak to eight in a row by winning its home regional matchups on Friday and Saturday over Catholic Memorial and South Milwaukee to win the regional championship.
In their 63-36 win over Catholic Memorial (5-19) on Friday, the Lions blew out the Crusaders early, expanding a 17-5 lead after one quarter to 40-15 at intermission.
Eisenhower had a huge advantage at the free throw line, hitting 20-for-27 while the Crusaders were 3-for-10. Katie Lang had a huge game, scoring 19 points, while Jenny Weiland had 14, as nine players got on the scoreboard.
The championship game was closer on Saturday, as the Lions won, 63-59, as South Milwaukee (16-8) rallied late to make the score respectable.
The Lions led 15-9 after one period, but the Rockets had a 13-10 advantage in the second period to cut the lead to 25-22 at halftime. The Lions had a slim advantage in a high-scoring second half (38-37), taking a 47-37 lead into the final quarter. The Rockets rallied (22-16), but it was too little, too late.
The Lions struggled from the free throw line (16-for-25), while South Milwaukee was 13-for-18.
Sammy Kozlowski led the way with 20 points, Weiland had 15 and Lang chipped in 13 points. South Milwaukee's Ellie Pushek led all scorers with 22 points, while Brittany Bruck and Riley Budde scored 12 points each.
The Lions (22-2) now play Pewaukee (20-4) on March 7 at Waukesha South. Eisenhower beat Pewaukee twice by almost identical scores on Dec. 4 at home (59-32) and on Feb. 5 on the road (59-33).
If Eisenhower wins, the winner of the Pius XI (21-3)/Whitefish Bay (16-8) game will be their opponent March 9 at Brookfield Central.
WEST GIRLS BASKETBALL
Third-seeded New Berlin West fell apart in the third quarter and dropped a 41-38 decision to sixth-seeded Waukesha North on Friday in a WIAA regional semifinal game at West.
The loss to the Northstars (12-12) ended the Vikings' season with a 13-10 record.
The Vikings led 8-6 after a low-scoring first quarter, but increased their margin to 22-16 at intermission. But North then exploded after halftime, going on an 18-5 run in the third quarter to take a 34-27 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
"Microcosm of our season," West coach Corey Scheel said. "We have struggled in the third quarter all season. We can't score and the other team can. I wish I could explain it, but I can't. Give North a ton of credit, they came out and went on an 8-0 run."
The Vikings rallied (11-7), but couldn't overcome their third-period performance. West had a few great looks down the stretch, after missing the first one, North missed two free throws, the Vikings came down but missed a wide open 3 to end the game.
A better performance from the free throw line (14-for-25) in a three-point loss also would have helped the Vikings.
Senior Beth Ver Haagh led the Vikings with 13 points, while freshman Claire Radtke added 12 and senior Lizzie Kuhl had seven. No one else had more than three as only six players managed to score.
Tori Aho, a senior guard who was averaging 6.7 points, tore up West with a game-high 17 points, including four 3-pointers.
"She hurt us," Scheel said. "She has stepped up. She's been shooting better. She hit some big shots and we had some mental breakdowns."
WEST BOYS BASKETBALL
Sometimes New Berlin West coach Jeff Lewiston might have felt he was in the movie "Groundhog Day."
The Vikings finished a disappointing season with a 6-17 record, last in the Woodland Conference West Division with a 5-12 record. Two things kept recurring during most of the season - poor shooting and one bad quarter - usually spelling disaster for the Vikings.
"I thought we'd be better," Lewiston said. "But we never got to the point where we could close the deal. I felt we would be better shooters. We didn't even shoot free throws well."
Lewiston emphasized that he had a good bunch of kids, but their demeanor might have hurt them on the court.
"Our lack of physicality hurt us," he said. "We have nice kids; maybe too nice. They worked to get better and did improve, but they didn't make the amount of improvements we needed."
Despite the numbers, Lewiston found positives with his ballclub.
"I saw the development of some kids, some of our younger players," said Lewiston, who only has five seniors on the team.
Juniors Scott Reichel, Brett Connors, Andrew Knoll, Tim Rink and Chamika Wijenayake and sophomores Brennan Grossmann and Alan Peil were also on the roster.
The Vikings will lose Tyler Thompson, Jake Grossman, Austin Fritz, Kevin Marx and Darin Sowinski to graduation. Lewiston was especially pleased with Thompson's performance down the stretch.
"Tyler stepped forward. He shot the ball, I didn't see that coming. He was our most consistent scorer," Lewiston said. "He was a nice story. He had been a reserve in the early going, but we started to depend on him as the season went on."
Lewiston also praised the improvement of Reichel and Connors, in particular.
Thompson, a second-team all-conference choice and a scholar-athlete, led the team with a 9.0 point average, followed by Fritz (8.9), Sowinski (8.5) and Reichel (6.4). Fritz (5.5), Reichel (5.1) and Sowinski (4.7) topped the team in rebounding.
Marx was another player who had a good stat line across the board with 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.4 steals per game.
"We showed the right things at times, but we couldn't translate that from practice to games," Lewiston said. "That was a problem all year. We spent more time working on our shooting than on any team I've coached in 35 years."
Before ending the season with three straight losses, the Vikings beat North, upset Pewaukee and beat Wauwatosa West for their longest winning streak of the year.
"We saw improvement, felt we were turning the corner, had some good practices, but then it went away again," Lewiston said.
- Tom "Sky" Skibosh and John Rech
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