The Homestead-Germantown rivalry is going away as of next year because of the Warhawks moving to the Greater Metro Conference.
But that doesn't diminish anything that happens this year between the two programs.
Especially for first-year Homestead boys basketball coach Sean Crider, whose team controlled the second half against the seven-time North Shore champion Warhawks on Dec. 9 and held on for an all-important 68-64 victory.
"It's a great feeling," said Crider. "The kids felt it was a huge monkey off their back. To finally beat these guys. A JV assistant coach even came up to me and said, "I can't remember the last time we beat them. It seems like we never beat them'."
It was all part of a very satisfying week for Crider and the Highlanders, who also ground out a tough 49-45 nonconference victory over West Bend East on Dec. 6.
The twin wins improved the Highlanders to 2-1 overall and evened their NSC mark at 1-1.
They took on Milwaukee Lutheran on Dec. 13 and will visit Port Washington on Friday, Dec. 16, in a pair of North Shore Conference tilts.
Homestead went up big early against the rebuilding Germantown squad (1-3) in the first half, taking a 37-30 advantage into the break. The Highlanders rode to victory this night on the strength of 10 3-point shots.
Germantown put on a surge early in the second half to take a small advantage, but the Highlanders quickly pushed back, grabbed the lead back and held a two-to-three possession advantage for much of the game.
A big play was a long 3-pointer from forward Taejuan Johnson.
"It was a big time, step-back 3," Crider said. "It was one of those 'no, no, no, yes, yes, yes' kind of shots."
Homestead didn't get to the line much this game, but Greg Foster Jr. hit three of four free throws late to seal the victory.
Garrett Mitman led the balanced attack with 15 points, while Foster Jr. had 14 and Jack Quinlevan 13.
Attitude was a big part of the victory, Crider said.
"I think we faced some big-time adversity out on the road," he said, "especially with them coming back like they did, but we never got rattled. We always felt like we would win the game."
The home win against East on Dec. 6 was a good warm-up for the mental toughness the Highlanders needed against Germantown. The Suns played slow-ball, sometimes taking two minutes off the clock in one possession. But Homestead was able to take a 28-21 halftime lead and then held on for the win.
Quinlevan had back-to-back big hoops near the end of the game to help seal the victory.
Foster Jr. finished with 15 points, while Quinlevan had 14 and Mitman 8 for the Highlanders.
Crider said the bench provided a great spark in this game.
"The kids are really excited," he said. "They now see that we have a chance at a good season. We don't want the Germantown game to be the high point for the season. We want it as a highlight, something that we can build upon."