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When the WIAA sectional seeding meetings are held for the northern suburban D1 girls basketball teams late next month, no one is going to be able to argue that Germantown is not battle-tested.

In last week's Christine Rathke Memorial Tournament at Franklin, the Warhawks beat top-ranked Middleton and fourth-ranked and defending state D1 champions DSHA.

It ended with Germantown finishing third in what was arguably the deepest girls tournament in the state this season.

'You think that would give us the championship,' said Warhawk coach Matt Stuve with a chuckle, 'but even the unranked schools here are tough. To go 2-1 in a good, good field is something.'

Yes it was.

The Warhawks beat Middleton, 73-65, in the quarterfinals on Dec. 28; fell to host and eventual champion Franklin, 66-63, in the semifinal on Dec. 29; and then built a huge lead and hung on for dear life against DSHA, 62-60, in the third-place tilt on Dec. 30.

The tough run left Germantown at 8-3 overall and left junior guard and Rathke All-Tournament team selection Kenzie Schmitz (22 ppg.) feeling good about the Warhawks' chances heading into the new year.

'We can definitely be proud of what we did here,' she said. 'We beat two good teams and came all so close to Franklin ... but it was really fun to come here, to be challenged and play great teams.'

The schedule gets no easier for the Warhawks. The two-time North Shore Conference champs (4-1 in league play) face something of a do-or-die game when they visit NSC co-leader Cedarburg (4-0, 9-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 8.

'We know we have challenges ahead of us,' Stuve said.

And for the most part, the Warhawks answered the bell in the Rathke.

Against DS (7-3), they played inspired ball for most of the game, building a 49-29 advantage with 11:54 to play with the help of a 7-0 run.

The Dashers were ice-cold for most of the half (3-for-23 at one point) before they turned up the heat on a full-court press. It was still 59-42 with 4:43 left, but then DSHA went on a 10-0 run to cut it to 59-52 with 2:43 left. The Warhawks were suddenly turning the ball over with alarming regularity.

After a Calli-Lemke free throw made it 60-52 Germantown, DS cut the margin to four as Grace Callan hit a 3-pointer to make it 60-56 with 1:27 left.

Germantown, which had made its first 11 free throws of the half, suddenly became iffy at the line, and it almost cost them as the Warhawks made only three of 10 tosses in the final two minutes.

Lemke made one of two chances with six seconds left to give Germantown a 62-60 lead. The Dashers, who were out of timeouts, rushed down the floor, but a long 3 was off the mark and the Warhawks hung on.

Stuve was happy with the outcome, but it didn't quite have the same feel as it would have given when the Warhawks had built such a large lead.

'You normally come in and say you beat DS by two, it sounds really good,' he said, 'but we were up by 20 at one point. I think what fits here is the old adage, you fight fire with fire. They were attacking us (late in the game), and we had to go equally hard back. We had open kids but we needed a little more accuracy on our passes.'

Sarah Richmond hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points to lead the Warhawks, while Schmitz had 13 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Olivia Verdin and Megan Ische had 10 points each. Germantown hit seven 3-pointers in the contest.

Schmitz said the team learned a great deal in this tournament, especially offensively.

'We're getting everyone involved,' she said. 'We tell people that when they're open, shoot it. No one is yelled at for shooting (if they're open).'

In the Franklin loss, Schmitz was unstoppable with 30 points on 11-for-20 shooting, including four 3-pointers. She also had 11 rebounds and three assists.

'Some days, your shots just go in,' she said with a laugh.

In the victory over previously unbeaten Middleton, the Warhawks overcame a 36-33 halftime deficit by outscoring the Cardinals, 40-29, in the second half.

Schmitz had 23 points, including all seven of her free throw attempts with five rebounds, three steals and two blocks, while Piper Brown had 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks and Lemke nine points, six assists, three steals and three blocks.

Verdin also had a great all-around game with seven points, 11 rebounds, six assists, two steals and four blocks.

'We've had a lot of people step up lately,' Schmitz said.