Wauwatosa West girls basketball team on a winning streak
Imperiale likes team's effort, fight in victories over Greenfield, Greendale
Wauwatosa West beat winless Greenfield, 46-28, on Dec. 11 at Greenfield, for the Trojans' second straight win and then went out and edged Greendale, 41-35, on Friday on the road for their third consecutive victory.
At the end of the week, Trojans coach Ashley Imperiale went through a familiar routine.
"I always ask myself two questions: 'Were we better today than we were yesterday? What's the next step?' Getting better doesn't mean we had to win on the scoreboard or that we scored a certain amount of points.
"Getting better means we found a way to play when in foul trouble, set better screens than last game, boxed out stronger and gave up fewer second-chance points, made fewer defensive rotation mistakes, had a louder and more energetic bench than the last game, had a positive assist to turnover ratio."
In other words, it's the little things that make a difference to Imperiale.
"Those are the things I reflect on because all these little things are what need to be consistent to grow as a team and be competitors," she said. "We are a competitive team and that's kudos to the 12 girls wearing Tosa West jerseys who've made the decision to come into practice every day and sacrifice, work hard as one and learn with a positive attitude."
The week start against the Hustlin' Hawks, as the Trojans had a low-scoring first quarter (4-2) before turning up the power with a 14-10 second period and an 18-12 halftime lead.
"We started off slow and were having some trouble getting into the flow of the game, not finishing our shots" Imperiale said. "But the girls did a fantastic job of playing through and moving on to the next play and sticking to the game plan.
"We talk daily about how doing the little things - good screening angles, being the first on the floor for a loose ball, cutting hard to the ball, using your left hand on the left side - makes big things happen in games and this game was a prime example."
Exhibit A: Elise Ditscheit deflected a ball, outhustled three Greenfield players who stood around watching and got a layup.
Exhibit B: After the Trojans grabbed a defensive rebound, Abbey Jones raced down the floor, the guards kept their heads up and hit her with a nice pass for a left-handed layup in traffic.
Exhibit C: Ashley Lindstrom then cut hard to the ball and used a nice shot fake to get to the rim and Megan Wendelberger backs her dribble up to relieve herself of ball pressure and then attacks to draw the defense and set Latasha Harmon up for a five-foot baseline shot.
"Next thing you know a two-point game is a 13-point game and you've separated yourself, have a little room to breathe and it's because of the little things," Imperiale said. "No fancy passes, no dramatics, but the intangibles of heart and disciplined fundamentals."
The Trojans increased their lead to 37-24 after three periods thanks to a 19-12 third quarter and then more than doubled up the Hustlin' Hawks (9-4) in the final quarter.
Imperiale had seven players get on the scoreboard, led by Harmon with 16 points and Lindstrom with 11.
Imperiale returned to her old stomping grounds at Greendale three days later and the Trojans had to scrap to get a 41-35 victory.
"It felt good to get this win. Greendale is a good team, very scrappy, relentless and played us tough," Imperiale said. "Early on we were kind of shoved up against a rock and a hard place when the fouls were at 9-0 in Greendale's favor.
"I love our aggressiveness and blue-collar approach to the game; that's a big element of Trojan basketball and in this particular game the officials set the tone that it would be a tightly-called game and that doesn't fit our style of basketball."
After a 6-2 first quarter and a 16-12 lead at intermission, the Trojans extended their advantage to 31-22 after three quarters.
"Teams win and lose games and we had to find a way to play Trojan basketball within the realms of how the officials let us play," Imperiale said. "I was very, very proud of how our girls didn't let our early foul trouble get to them and how we kept composed."
Harmon, who was 3-for-4 from the free throw line, and Jones each scored 11 points, Lindstrom and Wendelberger had seven and Ditscheit added five.
"We made the last five minutes of the game much more interesting and entertaining than we needed to," Imperiale said of the Panthers' 13-10 fourth-period advantage. "But it's all part of the learning process, the journey.
"It was our first time really being in a closer game and having a lead so there was a lot for the girls to learn and take away for our future games and being in this position.
"We are an unbelievably unselfish team and it's very exciting and fun to watch as each of the girls grows and improves individually."
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