New Berlin - Every season, the New Berlin Eisenhower girls basketball team is secure in its identity.
"We like to come out and get in our opponents' faces and take them out of what they like to do," said Lions coach Gary Schmidt after the Lions' surprisingly easy 57-41 nonconference victory over a red-hot Franklin club on Jan. 15. "A lot of teams don't know us, so we like to schedule games like this. It was a good marquee matchup on a Tuesday night."
Only most of the star power belonged to the Lions, who never trailed.
Eisenhower then returned to Woodland Conference action on Friday with a businesslike 68-34 romp over Shorewood to improve to 9-1 in the conference and 13-1 overall.
Lions end Sabers' streak
On Jan. 15, the Lions were able to end an eight-game winning streak by Franklin, which slipped to 10-3, leaving its head coach, Tony Kathrens, somewhat baffled.
"This was almost exactly like the Oak Creek game earlier in the year," said Kathrens, referring to the Sabers' last loss in early December. "We get in against a taller, better defensive team that makes us work hard and we fold like a house of cards.
"It's just frustrating. Anytime we play against a quality big (post player like the Lions' 6 foot-2 inch Chelsea Brackmann) we struggle, because Cassidy (Mihalko, the Sabers' best player) likes to go inside, but we had that taken away from us tonight."
The Lions play long (three starters 5-10 or better, not including Brackmann, who comes off the bench) and they extend their halfcourt defense to the limit.
They let the Sabers get very few transition baskets and on almost everyone of Franklin's sets designed to free up one of their smaller starters (four at around 5-8 or so), the Lions had the reach to stymie it or force Franklin to reset.
It didn't help that the Sabers' best 3-point shooter and second leading scorer Jenny Eickhorst had to sit the better part of the first half with two fouls.
"We knew that they were a good three-point shooting team so we tried to extend our perimeter," Schmidt said, "and our size inside didn't let them get anything going there either. I thought our weakside help was excellent tonight."
Eisenhower went up 6-0 before Eickhorst hit a 3-pointer for Franklin. It was 12-9 Lions before they scored the last six points of the quarter to go up 18-9.
Franklin would hang around, as a 5-0 run midway through the second quarter closed the gap to 21-18, but then the Lions went on a 7-0 burst, highlighted by a three-point play from guard Sammy Kozlowski, that made it 28-18 with 43 seconds left in the half.
After Mihalko hit a three with 6:23 left in the third to cut the deficit to 28-23, the Lions put the hammer down, going on a 9-0 run to make it 37-23 with 3:27 remaining in the stanza.
The margin never dropped below 12 after that.
Eisenhower was paced by senior forward Jenny Weiland, who had 16 points. Kozlowski had 11 and Brackmann nine.
Ike bounces Shorewood
On Friday against Shorewood, Weiland tallied 18 points, Brackmann 17, Katie Lang 10 and Kozlowski seven. The Lions were up 38-20 at the half, and the margin just kept building from there.
This season, the Lions had to replace all-stater Nicole Bauman after their state Division 2 finalist season of a year ago, but the goals remain the same for them.
"We like these kids," Schmidt said. "Nicole was a great player, but these kids want to establish their own identity, make their own mark, and I think they're doing just that."
The Lions next welcome St. Francis at 7:30 p.m. Friday, then take on another perennial power when they visit Hartland Arrowhead at 7:30 Jan. 29.
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