New Berlin West used balanced scoring and good defense once again Saturday night and defeated Catholic Memorial, 58-43, at home to win a regional championship.
The Vikings (18-6) will now move on to the Greenfield sectional on Thursday at 7 p.m. to face New Berlin Eisenhower (24-0), who defeated Cudahy, 54-36.
It was West's first regional title since 2002.
"Oh my gosh," West coach Corey Scheel said afterwards, while watching his team cutting down the net. "We set goals at the beginning of the year. Obviously, our first goal was (winning) conference and then winning a regional title. For this group to do that it means so much.
"With a younger group and some of the adversity we had in losing some players, some people had to step up. It's about these girls, its about this program ... these girls buying into what we are preaching, and they have. You can see the look on their faces, the determination, it means so much as a coach."
The game was a thriller for almost three quarters, as the Vikings led, 21-20, at intermission. West had a first quarter advantage (14-7), but then the Crusaders almost matched them in the second period (13-7) with CMH's Allison Mueller scoring all her team's points.
When Mueller hit a jumper to give CMH a 24-23 lead early in the third period, West went on a 9-0 run to take a 32-24 lead.
Beth Ver Haagh put in a rebound basket, Lexi Porter hit a 3-pointer, Shannon Burke hit a jumper and then stole the ball and scored, forcing CMH coach Ron Guess, a former West assistant, to take a time out at 3:11.
But the Crusaders could not get closer than seven points the rest of the game, as seniors Becca Gasper and Shannon Burke scored six and five points, respectively, in the fourth period.
"When your gas tank is so low and the other team is playing so well, we just couldn't get over that hump," said Guess, pointing out the Crusaders expended a lot of energy in beating Pewaukee on Friday night.
Mueller led all scorers with 22 points, but she was a one-person show for CMH. West had four players in double figures - Gasper and Burke with 14 each, Ver Haagh 12 and Porter with 10.
"It's the best feeling in the whole world," Burke said afterwards. "Winning as a team, collectively. Being a part of it is just the best."
Gasper, who finished with a double-double, was also thrilled.
"It's amazing that we have come so far," she said. "If everyone does their job, we will win."
"We knew we had to do it on offense and defense," Burke added. "Stop the ball and then score. We couldn't let up, every basket, every opportunity mattered."
Guess, who coached at West for four years as a JV coach and a varsity assistant, was filled with mixed emotions.
"Watching these girls that I coached and came up through the system with was great," he said. "It was bittersweet, but I wish them the best of luck in the next round.
"Winning or losing it is about the kids and having that many kids that you love on both teams it's really a special occasion. It was going to be a head-to-head fight, who wants it more. You have to give them credit, they are on their beautiful home court, this facility, they're well-coached, they're a great group of kids and I love them as much as I love my own team. I wanted to win, but as far as being bitterly disappointed, no way."
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