The New Berlin West girls basketball team pulled off another victory over an old foe to extend its winning streak and pad its lead in the Woodland Conference. Led by junior guard Alyssa Nelson’s 12 second-half points, the Vikings completed the season sweep of their longtime nemesis Pius XI with a 45-37 victory on the road on Jan. 24.
“Pius, year in and year out, is a powerhouse for us in this conference, so it was a challenge and we knew it was going to be,” New Berlin West coach Collin Thompson said. “It’s a huge win overall for the conference for us so we could get a little separation, which is huge for us.”
After going winless against Pius XI since the Lady Popes moved into the Woodland Conference – an 0-9 record dating back to 2012-13 – the Vikings swept their rivals this season.
improved to 10-1 in conference play and 15-1 on the season.
New Berlin West used a big second half to down South Milwaukee, 56-32, on Jan. 27 to extend its winning streak to 14 games. At 16-1 overall and 11-0 in the Woodland West, the Vikings entered the week with a two-game lead over New Berlin Eisenhower with five conference games remaining.
The No. 4 team in the state according to the Wisconsin Division 2 coaches poll, New Berlin West took a 20-17 lead into halftime, withstanding the play of Pius senior guard Cassie Collins. Collins scored 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first half, including three 3-pointers.
New Berlin West took over in the second half, and the Vikings never let the Popes get within 4 points the rest of the way. Nelson drained a pair of 3-pointers and scored 8 points total during a 12-6 run that gave the Vikings a 36-24 lead with 6 minutes to play, their largest lead of the night. She paired beautifully with senior forward Morgan Henrichs on several plays, with Henrichs dominating the paint and setting up Nelson for open looks.
"(Nelson) just looks to attack and be aggressive, and we need her to be that way,” Thompson said. “We filter through Morgan inside, but Alyssa cuts well without the ball, and she can space the court with the long shot. It was good to see her elevate her game tonight.”
Even with a winning streak standing at 14 games and her team finding its groove, Henrichs realizes there’s not time to rest on past performances in the difficult Woodland Conference – especially with the rest of the league gunning for her Vikings.
“The team just has to keep working hard, and we have to make sure we don’t take that for granted,” Henrichs says. “We know teams are coming after us, and the target on our back is getting bigger.”
Vikings down South Milwaukee
South Milwaukee provided a bit of a scare to New Berlin West on Jan. 27, but the Vikings recovered from a sluggish first half to pull away for a 56-32 win.
After the Rockets played the Vikings even at 19-19 for the first half, New Berlin West outscored South Milwaukee, 37-13, over the final 18 minutes to improve to 16-1 overall and 11-0 in the Woodland West.
Nelson led New Berlin West with 21 points. Junior forward Maddie Fritz added nine points and Henrichs and senior guard Ewelina Schlomann each finished with seven points.
The Vikings will play at South Milwaukee at 7:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 31 before returning home to face Shorewood at 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3.
Andrew Gruman contributed to this story