Momentum entering any kind of playoffs is a good thing.
Momentum at the expense of your archrival is priceless.
The Menomonee Falls girls basketball team took the full measure of Greater Metro Conference champion and fiercest rival Sussex Hamilton in a 58-29 decision in its regular-season closer on Feb. 17. The victory, coupled with a fine 54-39 nonconference decision over Wisconsin Lutheran on Feb. 14, allowed the Indians to pull even in GMC play at 7-7 for the season and 11-11 overall.
Falls coach Derek Woelffer said it was all about belief.
"It was a shocker for a lot of people," he said. "We've really been preaching team as this thing (the season) winds down. For our seniors, it's really become a reality. They realize that it's kind of now or never."
For Falls, now is a good time. The interesting thing for the Indians, who are on a three-game winning streak, is that they turn around and visit Hamilton again at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24, in a WIAA regional semifinal. The 12th-seeded-in-sectional Indians want to play that game as soon as possible, Woelffer said.
"I saw some of the girls on Saturday (Feb. 18), and they said they wished they could play that game right now," Woelffer said.
The winner of the semifinal will likely head up to Bay Port for a regional final on Feb. 25.
Hamilton still finished the season two games clear in the GMC at 12-2 and 16-6 overall, but coach Bill Scasny does not like the direction of the Chargers right now.
"They have to get more aggressive," Scasny said. "We're just playing so laid back. We're not aggressive. We have to come and play in the beginning of the game. The last four, five games we are always putting ourselves in a hole, and we have to keep battling back. We have to come out ready to play right from the start."
Falls was the aggressor against the Chargers on Feb. 17. The Indians took a 27-14 halftime lead on the cold-shooting Chargers (23 percent).
Falls didn't relax in the second half, outscoring Hamilton, 31-15.
Woelffer was very pleased with the defensive effort against Charger star Macy Williams (8 points). He rotated Karly Volz, Sam Kruk and Lexi Chmielewski on her.
"We didn't let her get to her (favorite) spots, and we forced tough shots," Woelffer said.
Hamilton did not help itself with abysmal 6-of-22 foul shooting.
"They took 48 shots; we took 49 shots," Scasny said. "They made 48 percent, we made 23 percent. They shot eight free throws, made seven. We shot 22 free throws, made six, and they outrebounded us 36 to 20. You add it all up, it's kind of hard to win."
Falls had great balance, as Jessica Boerner led the way with 15 points. Madison Grzesiak had 13, Marissa Igunbor 12 and Volz 10.
"We didn't do anything really drastic," said Woelffer. "We did a few minor tweaks, just focusing on improving little things everyday. We stuck to what we do and showed them what we can do."
Hamilton beat Falls, 44-35, on Jan. 13.
In the Lutheran game, Falls took a 23-19 lead at the half and then slowly pulled away from the Vikings, as the Indians had one of their best games from the foul line of the season (17-of-22). Igunbor, who led all scorers with 18 points, was 8-of-10 from the line. Volz also had 18 points behind four 3-pointers, and Boerner had 8.
Woelffer said Volz has been playing well and noted senior leader Igunbor has really stepped up her game.
"She's such a leader, and and the way she passes is just not the way you see a normal high school kid do it," Woelffer said. "She just knows what she has to do."