It is difficult to beat a team three times in one season. Especially a good team like crosstown rival New Berlin West (16-7). That's why New Berlin Eisenhower's 53-43 win over the Vikings on Friday was particularly impressive.
Eisenhower then went on and upset Pewaukee, 59-53, to win the WIAA regional championship on Saturday and advanced to the sectional.
Eisenhower coach Gary Schmidt knew it would be a battle even though his team was 2-0 against West going into the game.
"They're a crosstown rival," he said. "To beat a team three times, they are a very good team, a quality team with a quality coach. We knew this was going to be a white-knuckler, a nail-biter. We knew it would be an all-out war and that's what it was."
Junior guard Sammy Kozlowski, the big difference in the game, talked about beating a team three times in a season.
"Its very tough," she said. "They know all of our plays, basically. It just came down to who was stronger. Who would finish it better."
After scoring only five points in three quarters, Kozlowski scored seven of Ike's 15 points in the final period to hold off the aggressive Vikings. She had one basket and was 5-for-8 from the free throw line as the Vikings had to foul to try to get back in the game.
Afterward Schmidt praised his star guard.
"I still think she is one of the five best guards in the state," he said. "She's getting a lot of looks from colleges. She sees the court so well. She can score, but she distributes the ball so well. She's a multifaceted ballplayer.
"She had a fantastic game tonight. People look at her average (11 ppg), but with her assists and her rebounds and (she accounts for) about 20 points per game."
Eisenhower led 17-7 after one quarter and that 10-point spread showed up in the final score. The Lions kept West at arms length until the middle of the fourth quarter.
Ike led 26-18 at halftime, but the Vikings kept hanging in there. The lead stayed at eight (38-30) going into the fourth quarter.
West then made a run to cut the lead to 40-36 with 5:57 left in the game as junior Ali Boldt scored on a drive, junior Jenna Nelson put back a rebound and senior Anne Radtke banked in a jumper.
Free throws seal game
But Eisenhower then hit 7-of-8 free throws. Senior Jessa Hahn was 1-for-2, Kozlowski was 4-for-4, and junior Sydney Cheung was 2-for-2 to take a 47-36 lead and put the game away.
"When they made that last run, we adjusted," Schmidt said. "That shows some character from a young team. When good teams come at you, to be able to be poised and handle that."
West sophomore Sarah Meleski, laying on the court, then passed to junior Rachel Novotny for a basket to cut the lead to 47-38 in a last-gasp effort. But Ike closed out with 6-of-10 free throws while West managed a 3-pointer by sophomore Claire Radtke and a layup by Boldt.
Six players scored in double figures, four for Ike — Kozlowski (12), Jessa Hahn (11) and sophomores Chelsea Brackmann (11) and Emalie Hahn (10). Novotny (11) and Anne Radtke (10) led West.
Schmidt talked about his team's balance.
"(Jessa) Hahn, a senior was awesome," he said. "I understand our scoring was balanced. When you can't stop five guys, teams are going to have a hard time defending you. That's what happened tonight. We got some looks, we hit them. Who knows, maybe we'll make some noise in the tournament."
Both teams top players are young and Jessa Hahn talked about seeing those young Lions grow during the season.
"It was fun to see them develop and it was fun to be able to contribute to it too," she said. "A lot of them were on my sister's (sophomore Emalie) team and I've seen them grow up. It's an awesome feeling."
Afterward Jef Radtke talked about trying to keep the Lions from sweeping.
"When they're that good, it's hard. They're good," he said. "First off, we congratulate them. They are a good team, they're well-coached. They proved it to us three times."
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- Sport Shorts: Jan. 22, 2015
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- Big plays key New Berlin Eisenhower girls' win over West
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