Brookfield East girls basketball coach Mike Goodman knows it. Now Central coach Dan Wandrey knows it, too.
The Spartans girls are pretty good.
The Spartans are 3-6, with five of their losses coming to teams with a combined 32-4 record (an .889 winning percentage).
After the Lancers hung on to nip East, 44-40, in their first Greater Metro Conference meeting Dec. 17, Wandrey had some interesting thoughts.
"It was a good win," he said. "I talked to somebody today — three of their losses were to teams ranked in the top five or six in the state. Germantown is good. That's normally us. We usually come into the game with a battle-tested mentality. The one good team we played (Sussex Hamilton), we really struggled with. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect."
The Spartans came out pressing and harassing Central and took an 11-9 lead after the first quarter, as freshman Jan Wandt drilled in 7 points.
"East played that same style that we were going to struggle with," Wandrey said. "They want to get it going crazy, and they got it going crazy. We didn't handle it very well. Our go-to kids made just enough plays when they had to."
Central outscored the Spartans, 10-5, and took a 19-16 lead at intermission when Lancers senior Nicole Hinz overcame a 16-14 deficit with two free throws and a 3-pointer.
"It's kind of been like that the whole season," Goodman said. "Would of, could of, should of. We try to tell the girls it's the little things. It's not a possession in the fourth quarter, it's mistake in the first quarter. It's being up by two at the end of the second quarter, but we turn the ball over and then give up a 3 and we're down by three instead of up by two."
Goodman keeps telling his team you cannot do this, especially against good teams.
"It's being down by two and missing a layup. It's being down by two and getting a stop and then chucking it out of bounds," he said. "Against Germantown, Sheboygan North, Central there was one team that really actually beat us, and that was Arrowhead. The other games we were right in it."
Both teams came out and defense took over again, Central winning the period, 7-6. The deadly Hinz knocked down a long 3 to take a 26-20 lead, but East's Mariah Miller scored a rebound basket with 1 minute, 16 seconds left to play to make it 26-22 going into the fourth quarter.
Then this crazy game continued to show no consistency, as both teams went off — scoring a combined 36 fourth-quarter points, 18 each. Lydia Rohde had 7 points and Hinz tossed in two 3s, while Goodman turned loose sophomore guard Angela Pichler.
Pichler scored 11 points on five baskets and a free throw, scoring 10 of the Spartans' final 12 points. Her basket with 14 seconds left cut the score to 42-40, but Rohde dropped in two free throws with 6.6 seconds left to account for the final score.
"In the four games she's been back, there was only one where she went back into her old habits — attacking when it wasn't there, forcing some things.
"This game she took shots when they were there. She did a really good job running the offense. We were concerned about ball screens tonight, and she came off those pretty well. It was a very good game for her. She kept us in it, among others."
Wandrey was impressed.
"She had a couple of cold-blooded pull-ups," he said. "I'm thinking that's not a bad shot for us to give her — then, swish. She can play. Mariah Miller can play. They got players. You have to be able to guard them, so box them out. There were too many times we didn't do that.
"We knew they were going to come at us. We didn't handle that all that well. But enough times we got the wide open shot you are going to get when they play the style they play. We just got to be able to capitalize on that a little more."
Central's Wandrey complemented his veterans: Rohde, Hinz and Emma Brauer and his talented freshman, Caroline Busch.
"Emma Brauer had a big basket; Lydia is just understanding we're way better when she has the ball," he said. "Caroline is going to be good. She's 14 years old. Nicole Hinz hit a bunch of big shots.
"But East just coming at us. Three or four times in the fourth quarter we made a basket and I felt we could take a breath, but we couldn't stop them. They made some big shots, got some offensive rebounds. The hustle board, they kind of pounded us on that."
Hinz, who has played like an MVP so far, had 16 points and Rohde came through with 11. Pichler led East with 14.
East was crushed by Central three times last year. It's getting closer.
"Now we're from a 20-point loss to a 4-point loss," Goodman said. "It's still a loss, but it's a huge gap we just closed in. We could have won, and there is three times last year we weren't even close.
"I told them at halftime hopefully they learn something from these games. They hurt right now."
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