The skid is finally over.
After close to a decade of unparalleled success, the Germantown boys basketball team found itself in the kind of rut it had not been in for quite some time — a seven-game losing streak, with many of them close for the taking.
"Several of them were 9 points or less," said first-year coach Steve Martin. "We needed to take that next step. We needed to take it from very close to a W."
And the Warhawks did that on Jan. 7. In the nightcap of their Al McGuire Classic at the McGuire Center on the Marquette University campus in Milwaukee, they turned in their best defensive effort of the season and then hit nine of 13 free throws in overtime to edge Marquette, 58-54.
"It was much, much needed," said Martin, whose team had suffered a tough loss to North Shore Conference leader Cedarburg the night before. "We're taking a long, deep breath after that one."
The victory improved the Warhawks to 3-7 overall as they looked to build some momentum with another nonconference tilt against Kettle Moraine on Jan. 10 before hosting Port Washington in a North Shore tilt on Friday, Jan. 13.
Martin said the good effort against Cedarburg (78-70 defeat) and the win against Marquette were signs the Warhawks were getting healthier. They still did not have post Luke Taylor available as he was out with an injury, but fellow post Ethan Meyer has been helpful when healthy. He has knee issues, Martin said, so they have to carefully monitor his workload.
Everyone contributed to the win over Marquette, and a communal change in strategy also helped enormously.
"We were playing from behind most of the first half," he said. "We had a hard time keeping them out of the post, and we were picking up a few fouls as a result. We decided to come out in a 2-3 zone. We'd been working on it in practice, and we had a discussion at halftime with the team, and we all agreed that it would be a good idea.
"It stayed a very close game the rest of the way, just 2-4 points."
Germantown had the last look in regulation with the score tied at 46-46, but the Hilltoppers defended it well, and the game went to overtime.
The Warhawks were able to grab a quick lead in OT, and then the Hilltoppers had to foul. Martin said Germantown missed some critical throws early in overtime but then began to hit them. Marquette stayed in the game with two long 3-pointers, but eventually, Germantown hit its free throws.
Forward Kyle Clow hit 5-of-8 attempts, Colin Lindwall 2-of-2 and Bryce Thomas 2-of-3.
Clow led the Warhawks with 17 points, and Thomas had 16. Randy Johnson and Zach Behrendt had 8 apiece and Lindwall 7.
Martin said the win made up for a couple of the tough early losses, especially the triple overtime loss to Wisconsin Lutheran last month.
"We didn't hit our free throws in that one," he said. "We were determined that if we were in that situation again, we would do better, and we did."
The support from the Germantown girls basketball team, which had scored a huge win over Arrowhead earlier in the afternoon and decided to stick around and watch the boys game, was extremely helpful, Martin said.
Against Cedarburg, Germantown was down, 37-31, at the break but hung close throughout. Meyer had 20 points to lead Germantown, while Clow had 19, Thomas 11 and Johnson 8.