Just minutes after New Berlin Eisenhower's 53-33 boys basketball victory over Greendale on Feb. 27, a stepladder was placed under the basket, a cutting tool appeared and Queen's "We Are The Champions" began playing over the loudspeakers.
Parents and fans clustered around as one by one, the players climbed the ladder and cut down the nets, with each one securing a strand as a keepsake.
The Lions were celebrating their Woodland Conference North Division championship, and the reason the ceremony went so smoothly is that they have had plenty of practice at it.
This was Eisenhower's fourth straight division crown, and the team held a similar celebration after each one.
In 2007-08, when the clinching game was on the road, coach Dave Scheidegger gathered his players, along with their families, the next morning to cut down the nets and pose for pictures.
"A conference championship is a big deal," said Scheidegger, whose team also routed Shorewood, 65-29, Feb. 25 to finish 14-2 and tie Pewaukee for the top division spot. "It doesn't happen to a lot of people."
Senior forward Patrick Drew, whose 17 points led the Lions, added, "It's great to have back-to-back-to-back-to-back. This is unbelievable."
The Lions (18-2) began defense of their WIAA Division 2 state championship against Kewaskum on March 3. If they won, they would face Port Washington or New Berlin West in a 7 p.m. regional semifinal today, March 6, at home.
The victory over Greendale did not come easily, as the Panthers burst to an 11-5 lead in the first quarter. The Lions tied the score at 16-16 on a 3-point goal by Al Kahlfeldt late in the second period.
"I think the kids were wearing (the championship opportunity) a little bit," Scheidegger said, "and then they said, 'Hey, let's just play.' They just put the pedal down and took care of business."
Eisenhower went on an 11-0 third-quarter run, highlighted by four points from Mark Dorlack and a 3-pointer by Austin Selvick, for a 29-21 lead.
"We knew we had to step up our defense," Drew said. "We just came out (after halftime) and played our game."
The Lions used nine straight fourth-period points from Drew to go up, 47-30, and Mitch Sperka ended the game with a half-court heave at the buzzer that went in to cap the championship.
Eisenhower overcame adversity last week, with the disciplinary suspension of forward Kevin Marr, but prevailed.
"I'm pleased for all the parents and the kids who put in a lot of work," Scheidegger said. "You have to come and fight the good fight every day, and these kids have done that."
John Rech can be reached at (262) 446-6610. Read his blog at NewBerlinNOW.com. This week, more about the success of local winter sports teams.
Eisenhower 53, Greendale 33
Greendale (11-8-4-10-33) Alex Merg 10, Stuart Mohoney 8, Todd Barrett 7, Andrew Brees 5, Jacob Merk 3. Field goals 14-39 (36%); free throws 2-5 (40%); 3-point goals: Merg, Barrett, Merk.
Eisenhower (6-12-15-20-53) Austin Selvick 9, Zach Tranchita 4, Mark Dorlack 11, Patrick Drew 17, Al Kahlfeldt 6, Micah Kust 1, Brian York 2, Mitch Sperka 3. Field goals 15-32 (47%); free throws 17-24 (71%); 3-point goals: Selvick 2, Kahlfeldt 2, Drew, Sperka.
Eisenhower 65, Shorewood 29
Shorewood (7-4-8-10-29) Anthony Oliphant 3, Marc Mitchell 4, Charles Miller 2, Antwain Barfield 1, Malachi Krishok 3, Robert Duffy 6, Tony Hackett 2, Jack Slowey 8. Field goals 13; free throws 1-2 (50%); 3-point goals: Krishok, Oliphant.
Eisenhower (18-18-15-14-65) Tranchita 2, Selvick 5, Marcus Werner 4, Drew 11, Kahlfeldt 21, Dorlack 8, Sperka 7, Tyler Nickerson 5, Ryan Werner 2. Field goals 24; free throws 7-11 (64%); 3-point goals: Kahlfeldt 7, Drew, Nickerson, Selvick.
The Eisenhower boys have set or tied two school defensive records this season:
DEFENSIVE AVERAGE, SEASON: They are allowing 42.1 points per game. The previous mark was 45.9 by the 2002-03 team,
FEWEST POINTS, GAME: They allowed West Allis Hale 23 points on Dec. 23, tying the school mark for a single game.
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