Call it the Pewaukee girls basketball revenge tour.
While the Pirates remain a longshot to factor into the suddenly tight Woodland West race, they are putting the other top teams in a loaded WIAA Division 2 sectional on notice by avenging early season losses with blowout wins. The latest statement was a 73-56 victory over New Berlin West on Feb. 7, a win that snapped the Vikings' 16-game winning streak and prevented them from locking up a share of the Woodland West title.
With convincing wins over New Berlin Eisenhower and New Berlin West in the past two weeks, teams Pewaukee lost to the first time through league play, the Pirates are now 17-3 and 11-3 in the Woodland West. Another foe that topped PHS earlier this year, Milwaukee Pius, awaits Friday, and it's the wrong time for the Popes to face a Pirates squad showing its strength with the playoffs looming.
"Ike got us pretty good the first time, and we turned the tables on them," Pewaukee coach Todd Hansen said. "The same thing now with West. We’ve talked about it a little bit, but we never looked more than one game ahead. Now, in the locker room, we said we’ve done it to Ike, we’ve done it to West, and now we can look to Friday (against Pius XI), and hopefully, we can redeem all three of our losses."
The loss was New Berlin West's first since a nonconference defeat to Brookfield East on Nov. 22. At 18-2 overall and 13-1 in the Woodland West, the Vikings lead Eisenhower by one game with two conference games to play.
New Berlin West, ranked No. 2 in the latest Division 2 coaches poll, still controls its chances for its first conference title since 1996-97. The Vikings face Wauwatosa West on Feb. 10 and Eisenhower on Feb. 17, needing at least one win for a share of the league crown or two wins to win outright.
"It is a roadblock," New Berlin West coach Collin Thompson said. "We knew we were going to be on the short end of the stick eventually. We just emphasized that we are playing basketball tomorrow. It is not the playoffs yet. I'm glad it happened now so we can learn from it. We have two big regular-season conference games left before we head into the playoffs.
"I told them I was very proud of the streak we've been on. We haven't lost in two months and set Lady Vikings basketball records. I just emphasized that we shouldn't hang our heads."
Trailing 11-8 early in the first half, Pewaukee drilled four triples during a 16-0 run that gave the Pirates at 24-11 lead with 9:19 remaining in the first half. That lead grew to 15 before a sloppy final minute allowed New Berlin West to pull to within 36-26 at halftime.
Pewaukee, ranked No. 4 in Division 2, hit 6 of 8 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half, with Lauren Schill, Vivianne Jende and Lauren Benkowski each knocking down a pair.
"I thought the key was we got on them early," Hansen said. "It is always way easier playing from ahead than from behind. We had a lot of kids hit shots early. Lauren Schill hit a couple of threes. Lauren Benkowski came off the bench and hit a couple of threes. Viv Jende hit a couple of threes. If those kids are hitting shots, it just makes things a lot easier offensively because we can’t rely on (MacKenzie Schill)."
Alyssa Nelson hit a 3-pointer to bring the Vikings to within 39-31, but Jinda Guidinger answered with a 3-point play, and MacKenzie Schill knocked down a triple to make it 45-31.
Pewaukee rolled from there, leading by as many as 22 points. After scoring just 43 points and shooting 12 for 46 from the field and 2 for 11 from distance in a 1-point loss to New Berlin West on Dec. 20, the Pirates shot 52.8 percent (19 for 36) and hit 8 of 11 from three against the Vikings zone defense this time around.
"They were hitting shots early against our zone," Thompson said. "When they weren't hitting shots, they were crashing hard, especially weakside on us, to get putbacks or to the free-throw line. Our rebounding out of the zone and our ability to scatter to open shooters was just not there early, and they knocked down shots to get the run going early."
Mackenzie Schill finished with 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, hitting 12 of 13 attempts from the foul line. Guidinger had 15 points and 13 rebounds, and Lauren Schill scored 15 point,.
But it is when others like Jende (9 points) and Benkowski (8 points) chip in that the Pirates are especially dangerous.
"It is really nice (to have multiple weapons), especially since teams are starting to play zone against us because they think we can’t shoot," Mackenzie Schill said. "When we start knocking a couple of shots down to get them out of their zone, we can then move the ball on offense and start playing man-to-man offense."
Alyssa Nelson scored 25 points for New Berlin West, which had three starters foul out, including Lily Adkison in just 7 minutes on the floor.
"We lost a little bit of our competitive composure, me included," Thompson said. "They got up, calls weren't going our way and I think that extra competitiveness in us did us in a little bit and they were feeding off of it."