One of Homestead boys basketball coach Kevin McKenna's assistants told him at one point during the Highlanders 83-43 nonconference rout of Brookfield East this afternoon that the team may be guilty of a little "oversharing" when it comes to making the extra pass on offense.
But with five players in double figures, a record that is now 10-0 and a ninth-place ranking in state polls, McKenna is not about to complain.
"I actually liked it, in fact, I'll take it," said McKenna, whose surprising team continues to make waves in the state. "We were a little sloppy on the boards, but that gives us something to work on as we head into this week."
And what a week it is for the Highlanders. They will host Milwaukee Lutheran in a North Shore Conference tilt on Tuesday (if the weather holds) and then will have arguably their most important game in years, when they visit the empire that is top-ranked in state, two-time WIAA state champion and border rival Germantown (12-0) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The Warhawks are as formidable as they've ever been and proved it again tonight with an 87-44 road demolition of Madison LaFollette that ran their state record boys winning streak to 68 games.
McKenna is cautious, however, and would not do any speculation beyond Tuesday's Lutheran game.
"After Tuesday night, we'll let ourselves look forward to that opportunity (of Germantown)," he said. "We'll see where both teams are at then."
The Highlanders have not won a conference title in many years.
But if they continue to play the way they did this night, they'll give themselves a very good chance against Germantown, which has won six of the last seven league crowns.
The Highlanders took decisive control over their hosts their youthful hosts from East on Saturday (2-6) with a 13-0 run to close out the first quarter. That burst took the lead from 12-7 to 25-7.
In that run, junior swingman Mitch Sutton had five points and junior forward Jaylen Key four as Homestead used pressure defense and fine interior passing to create numerous easy opportunities.
"It wasn't a completely great start," said McKenna, "but we did a nice job of separating ourselves then (at the end of the first quarter). It was good that we puit the hammer down at that moment."
After a fitful second quarter that left Homestead up 42-24 going into the half, the hammer came down decisively in the third, as the Highlanders turned into a smooth-running machine, getting inside, getting fouled and going to the line often.
They were an impressive 17 of 20 from the line in the period, as they started the session with a 21-2 run that expanded the lead to 63-26 with 2:20 left in the quarter.
Homestead, which has seven players 6-5 or taller, simply went over the top of the much smaller Spartans (only one player at 6-4) again and again.
"We knew that we were facing a really, really good team," said East coach Matt Malett, "and we knew that they would do a really good job. It was just unfortunate that we got out of the things that we needed to do (to stay competitive)."
The running clock went into effect (a margin of 40 or more points) in the fourth quarter, as the Highlanders subbed liberally.
The Highlanders sharing skills became evident when looking at the final scoring totals. 10 players scored led by Key with 14, Sutton and Luke Mueller with 12 each, Jerrod Walton with 11, Jack Popp with 10 and Seth Cooley with nine.
East was led by Jimmy Engelhart with 10 and Christian Simon and Dominic Cartier with nine each.
"What we can take away from this," said Malett," is that if we don't put 100 percent of our focus and concentration into doing the little things, we're in big trouble. We don't have a big margin for error and we had holes in every facet of our game tonight.
"It was a little embarrassing at times."
But Homestead had a lot to do with that condition.
"Our second half was much better in its intensity than was the first," said McKenna. "We'll worry about the next game, put some work in and see where that takes us."
So far, it's been a long ways.
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