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Wauwatosa West girls basketball team's four-game winning streak snapped by Shorewood

Trojans fall below the .500 mark after loss

Dec. 24, 2012

What could have been a huge emotional week, turned into a downer for the Wauwatosa West girls basketball team Friday night at home.

That's because the Trojans blew a 20-11 lead in the third quarter, fought their way back into the lead at 31-29 with 2 minutes, 57 seconds left to play, before watching Shorewood go on an 8-3 run to end the game and earn a 37-34 victory.

As a result, the Trojans go into the holiday break with a 4-5 overall record, 4-4 in the six-team Woodland-West Division. The Trojans then battle Pius XI (8-0) on Jan. 4 and New Berlin West (7-1) on Jan. 11 when they return to conference play.

They also have non-conference games with crosstown rival Wauwatosa East (1-6) on Friday; Milwaukee Lutheran (1-6) on Jan. 8 and Whitefish Bay (5-4) on Jan. 15.

Lead evaporates

The Trojans went into halftime with an 18-11 lead, but Shorewood went on a 15-5 run to take a 26-23 lead into the fourth quarter.

"It's the little things that kill us," West coach Ashley Imperiale said. "We don't take care of the ball; we don't make strong passes; we weren't cutting hard to the ball; our defense was not calling out ball screens when we're getting screened. But all of a sudden the little things added up and it was a two-point game."

West held Shorewood to one basket in the second quarter, but they could only put seven points on the board and that lapse eventually hurt them.

After Megan Wendelberger scored to open the second half at 7:34, Shorewood went on a 15-0 tear, as Robbie Holland scored seven of her game-high 11 points in that stretch and Ashley Eimers added six of her eight points. When West's Latasha Harmon nailed a 3-pointer with 4.3 seconds left in the third quarter, it cut Shorewood's lead to 26-23 and gave Trojan fans hope.

West then opened the fourth quarter with a 5-2 run as Wendelberger tied the game at 28 and then two free throws by Jessica Pike and a free throw by Wendelberger gave the Trojans their final lead at 31-29.

But Jada Stackhouse scored twice and Eimers scored easily on an inbounds play and Shorewood led 35-31. Elise Ditscheit then drilled a 3-pointer to make it 35-34. But Holland's putback with 41.5 seconds ended the scoring.

"It wasn't their quickness, I think it was their length," Imperiale said when asked about her team's inability to stop Holland and Stackhouse. "They have good jumping ability. Yeah, we boxed out, but we didn't push them out. If you're just standing next to them, they're going to outjump you."

Unfortunately, the Trojans are still learning how to hold a lead.

"It's disappointing," Imperiale said. "The last three games we've struggled when we had the lead. We're still searching for how to play with a lead; to be aggressive, but also not be passive and not playing. That's where we're stuck in a little rut right now.

"It's definitely a game we should have won. It's that momentum you want going into a big 11-day break. When you have a schedule like we do, you've gotta win the one's you should. We're doing a good job of every day showing up and getting a little bit better."

Putting Cudahy away

You know things are getting better when the coach talks about her team beating themselves in many ways, not taking care of the ball and not making the simple plays - in a 15-point victory.

That's what Imperiale focused on following an eventual 48-33 win Dec. 18 at Cudahy.

But she did find some positives.

"It was a very back and forth battle, but I liked how we never stopped battling and I was happy with how the girls stepped up in the fourth quarter and were more intense and determined than Cudahy," Imperiale said.

Leading 33-26 going into the fourth quarter, Tosa West outscored the Packers, 15-7, and rolled to the easy win.

"Down the stretch we used a series of well-executed fast breaks," Imperiale said. "(We) sank our free throws and played tough defense to pull away for the victory."

Imperiale believes in the process, but she figures if her team can play 32 minutes like how they closed out the game against Cudahy, the Trojans could be very tough down the road.

"I'm a big believer in the process and while we've made huge strides, we're still very young in the process of getting to our vision and goals," she said. "But this game gives me some chills because if we play for 32 minutes the way we played the final three minutes of the game, wow, we could be special.

"A few weeks ago, I don't know that we could have pulled this game out, so it's always nice when you can walk away from a game knowing you didn't play to your best, but still found a way to get the job done. That's process right there. We found a way."

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