Arrowhead dictates tempo in second-half resurgence
Muskego's fast start doesn't deter Warhawks
Slow and steady won the race, and a penchant for getting to the free-throw line helped as well.
Arrowhead's girls basketball team couldn't keep pace with a highflying Muskego in the opening quarter, falling behind by a 22-15 count. But the defense adjusted, keeping the Warriors cold in the fourth quarter as the Warhawks slowly pulled away for a 56-47 win in the Classic 8 Conference opener.
"I thought we could pressure their guards in the full court, and we're just not there yet," said Warhawks coach Rick Witte. "That was our second game of the season, and the ball pressure wasn't right, and they handled it very well. That's a good basketball team. I know we lost Pius (from the Classic 8), but I was worried about Muskego coming into the conference. I know they're well-coached and have athletes. They put it together properly, as you saw.
"In my opinion, they were the better basketball team for probably three out of the four quarters."
But then there was the fourth, when Arrowhead scored the first 11 points to take a 48-39 lead. The Warhawks canned seven of eight free throws in that stretch and finished the quarter making 13 of 14 to put the contest on ice.
That proved crucial when the Warriors made a run to make things interesting. With the score 50-41, the Warriors hit a 3-pointer, forced a turnover and hit another 3-pointer to make it a one-possession game with 1:21 to play. But Kelly Smith, who finished with 20 points and 15-of-18 shooting at the charity stripe, hit the first of six straight Warhawks free throws to close the door.
Smith was part of the interior effort that frustrated Muskego 6-3 post Renee Bennett, who had four fouls within the first minute of the third quarter and was mostly a nonfactor.
"We don't really have that many posts," Smith said. "We have maybe one post (Ally May), and she's pretty lengthy; she's not huge. We shaped our defense around that. We played a lot of help defense on the post and wanted to put a lot of ball pressure on so it would be hard to enter the post."
Arrowhead (2-0) looked like it might be the one getting a rude welcome from the conference newcomer. Muskego effortlessly broke Arrowhead's press in the first quarter and hit nine of its first 11 shots from the field. Senior Jessica Cattani was particularly effective, scoring 12 points by halftime and 22 overall.
"Our team as a whole communicated very well and bounced back together really well," said Vanessa Voss, who finished with 10 points. "I don't think there was one person that doubted it, which I think is the main thing. We still believed in ourselves and knew we could do it."
After allowing 10 field goals in the first quarter, Muskego scored just one in the second quarter, and the score was knotted at 26-26 at the break.
"When our defense turns into offense, we find more rhythm," Witte said. "Muskego had us out of our rhythm, they sagged on us in the half court. This is a new system for these girls, and it's early for us."
Arrowhead forced at least five turnovers in each quarter (23 overall).
Arrowhead 56, Muskego 47
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