New Berlin West ran into its first big-time Woodland Conference opponent and saw Pewaukee snap the Vikings 7-game winning streak to open the season, 53-43, on Friday at West.
The loss knocked the Vikings (5-1) of first, while the Pirates remained tied for the top spot with Pius XI, both at 6-0 in the West Division.The Vikings are now off until they host New Berlin Eisenhower (3-2) on Jan. 7 at 7:30 p.m.
West executed perfectly and played excellent defense in the first quarter, taking a 14-5 lead before Pewaukee took over for next three quarters. They cut the Vikings lead to 27-26 at intermission with a 21-13 quarter of their own. Then they went out and took command of the third period with a 13-6 run to take a 39-33 lead into the final quarter.
West coach Jef Radtke had a quick answer to why the game quickly turned around.
“Fouls. We put them on the foul line,” he said and their three-quarter court pressure. It’s that simple. We put them on the line, which is what they want to do, that’s their MO, along with their full-court press.”
Pewaukee coach Todd Hansen agreed with Ratdke.
“The free throws did, they kept us in the game,” he said. “We kept attacking, we got to the line. Natalie Sheridan came off the bench and hit a huge 3, had five points in the second quarter.
“Jessie Bacon, our sophomore post has struggled the whole season and this is by far her best game without question. She gave us a huge spark off the bench.
“Abby Gerrits had a huge target on her back, she is one of the best sophomores in the state. Abby is cool and collective when she gets out there. A couple times she got to the basket and got some easy layups for us.”
Two free throws by Anne Radtke and a huge 3-pointer by Ali Boldt cut the lead to 41-38 with 7 minutes, 11 seconds left to play.
But then Gerrits hit a jumper and the Vikings fouled MacKenzie Schill, who sank both sides of a 1-on-1 for a 45-38 lead. Rachel Novotny hit 3-of-4 free throws around another Schill basket it to make it 47-41 with 2:46 to play.
In the final 1:42 Gerrits stole the ball and scored, Lindsay Wisniewski hit two free throws and Schill added two more, while all the Vikings managed were free throws by Jenna Nelson and Novotny.
Gerrits finished with 19 points, including six in the fourth period, but Schill added 12 and Bacon added 10.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Hansen said. “We kept our composure. We could of folded up because it looked like we were going to get blown out of the gym. They are a good team and they took it to us early. We took their best punch, chipped away and played much better in the second half.”
Boldt led West with 11 points, while Novotny had seven, Radtke, Sarah Meleski and Nelson finished with six.
West had several unforced turnovers.
“We did,” Radtke said. “We need to value the ball a little bit more. We got a little careless with the ball, a little casual and it bit us in the fanny.”
Radtke was not pleased with his team’s shooting either.
“We lost many opportunities to score,” he said. “The second and third quarters killed us. We had point blank shots and we just missed them. Those are the little things we have to get better at if we want to play with the big dogs."