Winning ugly is always better than losing, and when you win 11 straight, they can't all be pretty.
The Pewaukee Lady Pirates extended their hot streak with a 37-25 victory over the host New Berlin West Vikings on Friday.
The Pirates got off to a slow start in which they were scoreless for more than half the first quarter, as they mustered just six first-quarter points and trailed 19-9 before an 8-0 run late in the second quarter all but erased the deficit.
The Vikings still clung to a 21-20 lead at the break.
"It was not looking good for us," Pewaukee head coach Todd Hansen said. "We're down 19-9 with four minutes to go in the first half. We called timeout and we just said 'We gotta settle down a little bit.' We got it to one and just played phenomenal defense in the second half."
Showing plenty of the same resilience they've displayed throughout their impressive winning streak, the Pirates took their first lead of the night, 22-21, at the 4:52 mark in the third quarter.
But the Vikings had little offense, getting shutout in the third quarter and managing four points in the fourth.
"It was just about execution," Hansen said of the midgame turnaround. "Our press has been our bread and butter all year. We caused a lot of problems for them with it. We knew who we didn't want to shoot the ball. I credit our kids."
West coach Cory Scheel talked about the lack of offense.
"It's upsetting to score four points. It never should have been that way. I don't think it's a matter of playing really good defense, and I'm not taking anything away from Pewaukee; they played great. But we have opportunities in the paint and we're not finishing. Missing those shots is contagious. One person misses them and then everyone else loses confidence."
Scheel said the second half performance was a microcosm of the Vikings' season. The Vikings had a nine-point second half in a 49-39 game on Jan. 29 against Mukwonago. They lost that contest after holding a 30-17 lead at halftime. Moreover, the Vikings had a 26-point output at Pius on Jan. 18.
"The second half tells the story for the second half of the season right now," he said. "I don't have any answers for you. We're getting opportunities. We're not finishing. It's extremely frustrating to be playing good teams and be in those games and come out in the second half and have nothing."
On a lackluster offensive evening, Pewaukee's Lindsay Wisniewski was the only player in double figures with 13 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 showing from the free-throw line. Beth Ver Haagh led the Vikings with eight points.
The Pirates improved to 16-2 overall and 11-2, good for third place in the extremely competitive Woodland West Conference. The Vikings fell to 11-7 and 9-4.
"We have to stay positive and stay together and keep at it," Scheel said. "At this point, something's gotta give."
The Vikings dropped a 49-39 nonconference decision to powerful Mukwonago (16-1) on Jan. 29 at home, getting blown out by the Indians in the second half.
The Vikings, who now host Pius XI on Friday, were outstanding from the free-throw line, hitting 17 for 20, an .850 shooting percentage.
Ver Haagh led all scorers with 21 points, hitting 3 for 4 from the free-throw line and two 3-pointers, and Anne Radtke had 10, hitting 8 for 8 from the free-throw line. Jenny Tuttle scored 19 for Mukwonago, hitting 8 for 12 from the free throw line.
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