The North Shore Conference title is out of reach for the Homestead girls basketball team, but Highlander coach Corey Wolf was determined to see her team play a role in who does win it.
They did in a big way Monday, Feb. 6, when at the beginning of a hectic four-game week, they went up to Cedarburg for a make-up game and essentially put a giant dent in the second-place Bulldogs' hopes of at least tying Germantown for the championship with a 63-57 decision.
"There were a lot of good points to this one," Wolf said. "The title was out of reach of course, but we still wanted to make a difference in the race. If we weren't going top win it, we were going to help decide who did, and now we don't want to settle for just this (third place), we're going to go after second place too.
"This was very big for us."
The Highlanders, who routed Milwaukee Lutheran on Feb. 3 and came up close in an epic loss to Germantown on Jan. 31, improved to 8-3 in the North Shore (11-6 overall), while Cedarburg fell to 9-2 (14-4). Cedarburg will host Germantown on Friday, Feb. 10, in a game that could clinch Germantown's fourth North Shore title in a row,
Meanwhile, Wolf and the Highlanders will have to take a deep breath and try to deal with a crazy, four-game schedule this week. They took on Port Washington on Feb. 7, will host Wolf's alma mater Nicolet on Friday, Feb. 10, and then will host nonconference opponent Milwaukee School of Languages at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11.
"This could be a make or break week for us in terms of (WIAA sectional) seeding," she said. "We could move up or down six places depending on how we do."
Against Cedarburg, the Highlanders broke out to a 29-21 lead at the half. The Bulldogs then made a surge to tie the score, but the Highlanders countered with a burst of their own. They were able to hold Cedarburg at arm's length the rest of the way, as star Chloe Marotta (7-of-8) and Grace Crowley (5-of-6) hit their free throws down the stretch.
Marotta, fresh off her historic, 40-point, 22-rebound effort against Germantown, led the way with 21 points, while Grace Mueller had 11, Crowley 10 and Ally Rilling 9.
Wolf said the Highlanders finally got some offensive diversity that they were sorely lacking.
"We had players step up," she said. "They stepped up and were more aggressive offensively. They were much more confident, and that made a big, big difference. It was something we did have in previous games."
Wolf said there was a little celebrating after the big road win, but by and large, everyone kept an even keel with eyes on the big week ahead.
"It was a good start, but we have a lot of games left," she said.