The confidence, and the victory total, for the Port Washington boys basketball team continues to grow.
The Pirates beat Waukesha West, 64-55, on Dec. 28 and Cudahy, 49-42, on Dec. 27 to capture the championship of the Cudahy Tournament.
Port went into this week having won three of four games after starting the season 0-4.
"We played some decent games (during the 0-4 start)," coach Brian Hebein said. "We just couldn't get over the hump. We played teams tightly but were hurt by little things here and there."
The turnaround began with a 64-56 triumph at Ozaukee on Dec. 19.
"We knew Ozaukee was a solid team," Hebein continued, "and that victory gave us confidence. We have some younger guys on the team, so (getting the first victory) was important."
A loss to Homestead followed on Dec. 21, but the Pirates rebounded with their fine showing at Cudahy.
In the title game against Waukesha West, they were hot from the start, racking up a 40-25 halftime lead. Lilly and Oliver Giersch both netted a pair of 3-point shots, and eight players entered the scorebook.
"We came out with extra energy," the coach said. "We were in attack mode from the beginning and played our best half of the season."
In the second half, West applied a 1-3-1 half-court trapping defense and forced 13 turnovers to get back into the game, but Port made the key plays down the stretch.
"We had a 15-point lead go down to 1," Hebein said, "but we hit some shots and some free throws and held on. That was a nice character-building game because we lost our lead but didn't fold."
Giersch led Port with 16 points, followed by Jack Larson with 12 points, Lilly and Jordan Gardipee with 8 each and Adam Baierl with 7 points.
The earlier victory over Cudahy also turned out to be a big confidence booster because of the way Port won.
"We only scored 13 points in the first half," Hebein said. "Nothing fell for us, but because we played well on defense, we hung in there (trailing 17-13 at the half). In the second half, we came out with renewed energy; we ran our offense and took care of the ball, with only seven turnovers."
Port outscored the Packers, 36-25, with Lilly hitting a trio of 3-point field goals and the team connecting on 12 of 14 from the free-throw line.
Baierl scored 13 points, Lilly 11 and Cam Karnitz, Zach Uselding and Larson each put in 6 points.
Port takes on Grafton (6-3) at about 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6, on the road in the nightcap of a girls-boys doubleheader.