The search for a fourth straight North Shore Conference title for the Germantown girls basketball team got off to an emphatic start last week, as the Warhawks overwhelmed both Milwaukee Lutheran, 101-28, and Nicolet, 81-24, to improve to 2-0 in league play and 4-0 overall.
The bench played a huge role in both wins.
"I would say we got everything done that we wanted to," said coach Matt Stuve. "It was nice to get everyone involved, get everyone lots of minutes. These games are difficult to approach, but I know the last five to six kids on the bench look forward to them. Several of them got double-digit minutes.
"They work hard too and deserve the chance."
The schedule takes a dramatic uptick this week in terms of degree of difficulty, as the Warhawks took on tough area rival Sussex Hamilton on Tuesday, Dec. 6 (the Chargers just beat powerful DSHA), and then will visit all-state forward Chloe Marotta and area rival Homestead at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in a pivotal early NSC contest.
The Highlanders went to overtime to beat Grafton in a North Shore tilt on Dec. 2.
Stuve said the team is having a lot of fun right now.
"The bench energy has been great so far," he said. "The kids have been very supportive of one another. It's a close-knit group that's really enjoying each other."
It was easy to do so last week in the conference routs. Against Nicolet on Dec. 1, Germantown got off to a 47-12 lead at the half, as 12 people wound up scoring. Germantown had 22 assists and 22 steals as a team. Twelve different people had assists, and 10 had steals.
All-state wing Kenzie Schmitz, despite limited minutes, scored 22 points, including hitting four of five 3-pointers. She also grabbed seven rebounds with five assists and five steals. Forward Olivia Verdin added 13 points and six rebounds with five steals. Kate Richmond and Amber Ische had 9 points apiece.
Against Lutheran on Nov. 29, Germantown scored an astounding 61 points in the first half, as 14 different players scored. Schmitz had 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with five steals and two assists. Germantown had 38 steals in this game, as 14 players contributed to the total, including Natalie McNeal, Alison Knop and Aubrey Fliss with four each. Fourteen players also contributed at least one assist.
McNeal added 13 points, Ische 12 and Taylor Weitermann 10, while Richmond came up with 9.
Stuve said the bench experience has been invaluable.
"We've seen good teams with good starting fives," he said, "and we feel the same about our group, but the kids coming off the bench are really starting to understand what it's all about."