Explosive scoring runs and overall team balance are two of the factors that make the Muskego boys a championship basketball team.
Those characteristics were on display again on Feb. 18 in an 81-56 romp over Waukesha North, which gave the Warriors their second straight Classic 8 Conference crown.
Muskego improved to 12-1 in the Classic 8, two full games ahead of Arrowhead (10-3). Those two teams meet at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at Arrowhead, but the Warhawks can no longer catch Muskego, which secured its 10th conference title in school history and fourth since 2005.
The Warriors broke away from a 14-11 lead by going on bursts of 20-5 and later 12-2 to bolt to a 48-23 halftime lead and then coasted from there.
Out in transition
Both runs were fueled by a mixture of transition layups and 3-point field goals, with the Warriors putting up a flurry of points in a hurry.
"When we started running, we started getting open layups, which opened up 3s," point guard Caleb Wagner said. "North's a good team, and we knew we had to put the nail in the coffin because they (the North Stars) can come back. It was good that we kept going."
Forward Tommy Anderson added, "It all starts on defense. We got stops on defense, forced some turnovers and that got us into transition and got us into rhythm on offense."
Coach Andy Capes echoed that feeling, saying, "Our defense led to our offense, and I thought we were efficient and moved the ball well."
The other factor — balance — was shown in the scoring, as Wagner finished with 26 points, Anderson 21 points and power forward Matt Farner 19 points. Overall, nine players hit the score book.
"We have a group of really good players who have a common goal of winning," Farner said. "Everyone likes to score, but we always want to win. I do whatever I can to help the team win; if it's rebounds, great, if it's scoring, great. I don't care; I just want to win."
Anderson said, "We try to share the ball and get production from everybody."
Score 8 straight
Muskego was clinging to a 14-11 lead midway through the first half when it tallied 8 straight points on a free throw and scoop-shot basket by Farner and a 3-pointer and driving shot from Wagner.
North's Nick Dorshorst interrupted that string with a 3-pointer, and then Wagner netted another 3-pointer, Anderson hit a baseline shot and a 3-pointer of his own and Farner scored twice, once off an assist by Ryan Wikel, for a 34-16 lead.
The North Stars shaved that to 36-21, but the Warriors closed the half with their 12-2 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Anderson and Wagner and a pair of baskets from Farner, to go up 48-23 at the half.
North never came closer than 19 points in the second half.
After the game, the happy Warriors put on new 'back-to-back Classic 8 championship' T-shirts and posed for pictures to celebrate their second straight crown.
"This feels great," Farner said. "This is something, going back to last year, that we wanted to accomplish."
Wagner added, "This is a great feeling. This is a tradition we've had last year and this year, and it's fun. Good team ball leads to championships."
Anderson said the championships were years in the making.
"We've been working hard our whole careers from middle school on up," he said. "We've really gotten to play well with each other, and it means so much to be able to accomplish such a great thing."
Muskego posted another lopsided victory last week, downing Delavan-Darien, 88-57, on Feb. 15. Once again, the Warriors' "big three" led the way, with Wagner and Anderson both collecting 23 points and Farner 15 points.
Warriors open regional
The Warriors are 17-4 overall and have the fourth seed in their WIAA Division 1 sectional. They begin regional play at 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, at home against 14th-seed Beloit Memorial.
If they win, they would likely welcome fifth-seed Madison East for a regional title game at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5.