PORT WASHINGTON GUARD Joey McIlree soared past Germantown’s Zack Kumbier for a basket during a hard-fought North Shore Conference game last Friday.
Photo by Sam Arendt
State-ranked Warhawks have their hands full before subduing Port boys’ team
Some teams accept their place as an underdog and bow meekly to a favored opponent.
Others embrace the role and give their foe a tussle worth remembering.
Although the Port Washington boys’ basketball squad came up short in a 47-44 nail-biter against high-powered Germantown last Friday, coach John Bunyan had nothing but praise for his players afterward.
“Our plan was to control the tempo and make Germantown play at our pace,” he said. “If we allowed them to get out and run, we wouldn’t have been able to stay with them.
‘We came up short, but the guys did a great job. I’m really pleased with the effort.”
The state-ranked Warhawks, who improved to 8-0 in North Shore Conference play and 15-1 overall, handed Port a 70-51 loss on Dec. 10. But the rematch was decidedly different.
The Pirates used an active 2-3 zone and patient, ball-swing offense to give themselves a shot at an upset victory. They held a 42-39 lead early in the fourth quarter and had several chances to maintain the edge, only to have Germantown claw back in front.
Port trailed, 43-42, with 1:05 left when the Warhawks threw the ball away. After the Pirates’ Sawyer Mosley missed a three-point shot, Germantown regained control and got four free throws from Josh Mongan in the closing seconds.
The Pirates got a layup from Luke Schueller and had a last-second chance for a tie, but Shane Kennedy’s three-point shot under heavy pressure as the clock wound down was off the mark.
“We put ourselves in position to win, which is all we could ask,” Bunyan said.
“The first time, we lost to them by 19, so we knew we had to make some adjustments. We cut down on the turnovers and made Germantown take tougher shots, which kept the game close.”
The Warhawks started the night averaging more than 73 points per game but made just two of 13 three-point shots in the first half.
Port (4-4 in NSC play and 6-8 overall) wasted no time slowing the pace. After trailing, 13-6, after one period, the Pirates went on an 8-3 run late in the second quarter and pulled within 23-22 by halftime.
The pattern continued in the third quarter. Kennedy’s three-pointer late in the period pulled Port within 35-34 entering the final eight minutes.
As it has throughout the season, Germantown did most of its damage from the perimeter.
Zak Showalter led the Warhawks with 16 points, and fellow guard Alex Lloyd had eight. Each hit a pair of three-pointers.
No Port players scored in double figures, but Kennedy and Schueller each had nine points, and Joey McIlree added eight.
Although the loss left the Pirates firmly in the middle of the pack in the NSC race, Bunyan hopes it serves as a confidence booster.
“We didn’t win, but I hope they realize they can play with anybody,” he said.
This week, Port was scheduled to continue conference play against Nicolet on Tuesday and will travel to Whitefish Bay for a 7:30 p.m. game Friday.
On Feb. 8, the Pirates will host Waukesha North in a 7 p.m. nonconference contest.