I have three girls teams left and they are all in Thursday's bracket. I have already done a blog on #3 seed Wauwatosa West, who faces #1 seed Whitefish Bay in the top bracket at Waukesha North.
I will be covering the bottom bracket Thursday at Greenfield - where #1 seed New Berlin Eisenhower faces #3 seed New Berlin West in the Battle of New Berlin II.
Ike beat West - along with every other team they have faced this year - in the first meeting on Dec. 13, 52-38. The difference was a 25-15 first-half advantage. West made it more interesting in the second half, 27-23, for what it's worth.
Coach Corey Scheel, who lost his best player early in the New Year, has done an outstanding job of coaching this year. This team executes, plays good defense and shares the basketball as well as any team I have seen this year. There are no stars on this team and the Vikings are proud of that fact. They finished second in the Woodland Conference Blue Division (15-3, 18-6) and they have currently won four in a row and eight of nine games.
The Vikings whipped #6 Union Grove, 52-36, on Friday and Catholic Memorial, 56-48, to win Saturday's regional at West. The Crusaders were the last team to beat the Vikings on Feb. 21, 61-56, on the road.
Beth Ver Haag, a 5-11 junior forward, is West's top player. But close behind are seniors Becca Gasper, a 5-11 forward, Shannon Burke and Aubrey Giammarco, juniors Anne Kaczynski, Lizzie Kuhl and Rachel Gasper, a third 5-11 player, and sophomores Lexi Porter and Jenna Brzeski.
This is a hard team to defend, because anyone can shoot the ball and everyone can pass. They hope they can do what the boys team did. Beat Ike in the playoffs after losing in the regular season.
Gary Schmidt and Steve Showalter (Germantown boys) are members of the same coaching club - anyone can win with that talent. And that's not only sad, but that's downright stupid. If opponents come close to these teams, they feel it is almost as good as a win.
Personally, I don't think Schmidt gets the credit he deserves. His team has not lost a game since losing to Whitefish Bay in last year's sectional final. No one on this classy team will admit it, but they want the Blue Dukes and they want them badly.
Playing crosstown rival New Berlin West is good in the semifinals, because everyone is ready to play a crosstown rival. I don't think there is any worry of the Lions being overconfident. They know one more win and they get the match-up they want if Bay beats Wauwatosa West in the other bracket.
One of the reasons that Schmidt doesn't get the credit he deserves is that he has the best player in the state on his team in Nicole Bauman. She won the Gatorade Player of the Year Award and I would be shocked if she doesn't get the 'Miss Basketball' award next week.
I have only been covering prep basketball for 10 years, but I can say that Bauman is the best prep passer I have ever seen - including the boys. Her teammates have to be ready because she can make a pass at any moment, to anyone. There were games this year that I counted the assists she didn't get because of missed lay-ups by her teammates. My season-high was eight.
What helps Schmidt is the fact that Bauman is one of the most unselfish 'Super-Stars' I have seen. Sometimes I think she should be more selfish, but the results speak for themselves - 17-0 in conference and 24-0 overall.
But Schmidt can play 10 players and not miss a beat - balancing playing time is a tough thing to coach and can cause chemistry problems - but not on this team. The Lions care about 'W's' period.
Senior Katie Lang and junior Jenny Weiland flank Bauman and all three are 5-10, a good size for a front-liner, but they are all athletic on top of it. When Bauman missed time with an ankle injury, the Lions didn't miss a beat.
The list goes on - Erin Ganzke, a gutsy 5-6 junior guard, senior guard Taylor McArthur, Jessa Hahn, 5-11 sophomore center, and one of my favs - Kristen Hesselbach, a 5-6 junior guard, who brings a healthy energy off the bench. Senior Shawna Rickard and juniors Rachel Rush and Alli Persick have also seen good playing time.
I think Thursday's 'Battle of New Berlin' will be a better game than some people think. But I think the Lions will be making a trip to Madison next week.