The playoff seeds were thrown out the window in this one. On Feb. 25, the Hamilton girls basketball team entered a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal against Menomonee Falls as the fifth seed and the outright Greater Metro Conference champion.
Falls was the 12th seed and finished the regular season with an 11-11 overall. But just one week ago, Falls pulled off a stunning 58-29 victory over Hamilton in the regular-season finale. Anything was possible when the two rivals met.
Falls led at the half, 20-18, but Hamilton went on a 25-8 run in the second half to win, 54-37.
"The shooting was the main difference from last week," Hamilton coach Bill Scasny said. "We shot 23 percent from the floor. This week we shot, not great, but we shot 40. It's a big difference. Free-throw line, we went 6 for 22, and now this time we were 16 for 21. That's a huge difference, especially down the stretch when we're knocking them down."
Kristin Thompson's 3-pointer with 10 minutes, 29 seconds remaining in regulation tied the game at 29. HHS never trailed from there on.
"It's a game of breaks," Falls coach Derek Woelffer said. "I'm not going to by any means use that as an excuse, but they got a couple big shots and a couple bounces that certainly went our way last Friday when we played and that had a lot to do with the outcome of our game last Friday. This week, they competed, they were a whole different team, they mixed it up. Credit to the team and the coaching staff at Sussex. They threw in a 1-3-1, they didn't press as much, they changed some things up and they threw us for a little loop. They held us to not very many points. They battled, and they came out after a tough loss last week, and they never gave up. They stuck with it and the breaks came at the right time, and they put it together."
Hamilton junior Eliana Selin said the team's mindset switched after the loss to Falls.
"I think our confidence went up," Selin said. "We had to come back from our loss last week against the Falls and had to hype ourselves up. We got hyped up and got more confident. That helped. ... (The loss) fueled us. We didn't want to go out losing to Falls twice in a row, especially since it's our rivals."
Senior Macy Williams led Hamilton with 16 points and converted 6 of 7 free-throw attempts.
"The kids stepped up," Scasny said. "We told them, 'It just can't be Macy because they're keying on Macy.' The young people had to step up, and tonight they stepped up. We're not looking for them to score 20, just produce. And tonight, they did."
Thompson also had a big night for the Chargers with 11 points and three blocks.
Senior Marissa Igunbor scored a team-high 13 points for Falls. Falls senior Karly Volz added 11 points.
"This team, they never gave up on each other," Woelffer said. "They never quit. Up until yesterday, the last drill in practice, they battled, they scrapped, they fought. And tonight, it wasn't for lack of effort, a lack of execution maybe and a few bad breaks maybe, but you put it all together, and this is what we got. I'll never say one bad word about this team. I love every one of these girls so much. I thank this team, because in my first year, they have come out and they have changed the program."
Igunbor and Volz were the only Falls players to score in the second half. Scasny credited his team's defense for shutting down most of the Falls lineup.
"One, we limited them to more one-and-dones," Scasny said. "We didn't let them get multiple shots, which hurt us in the first half. Two, only two of their players scored in the second half. The rest of them were shut down in the second half. And again, we were more patient on offense. We moved the ball and got the ball inside for a couple ones and showed a little bit more patience instead of just going pass and shoot."
Falls finished the season at 11-12.
Woelffer complimented the leadership of his seven seniors: Jordan Lemieux, Volz, Allie Paulson, Elena Beck, Madison Grzesiak, Alyssa Marks and Igunbor.
"These seniors have been here since fifth grade playing together, all seven of them we had tonight," Woelffer said. "They are like sisters to each. They've got pictures every single year going up through the ranks. They never gave up, they stuck together, they had some rough years, they had some good years. I think for them to send a message to the future of Menomonee Falls basketball is pretty special and say, 'Hey, this is how it's done. Follow in our footsteps.' They were leaders but they were never selfish and they stuck together and they cared for one another."
Chargers win regional
A day later on Feb. 25, Hamilton traveled to fourth-seeded Bay Port for a regional final. The Chargers went on a 6-0 run in the last 2 minutes of regulation to win, 38-37. It was the second consecutive regional championship for Hamilton.
Williams had 15 points and Lexi Konop scored 8.
Hamilton will face No. 1 seed Germantown in a sectional semifinal on March 2 at 8 p.m. at Brown Deer.