There were several reasons the Brookfield Central girls handed Divine Savior Holy Angels their first loss of the season Friday — a 55-50 decision at Central — to move into a tie for first place in the Greater Metro Conference.
The Lancers (11-1) and Dashers (9-3) share first place with Sussex Hamilton (4-1) and have opened up the conference for an exciting second-half race.
Here is a closer look at why Central came away victorious, winning their sixth straight game.
Long shots: The Lancers had nine 3-pointers in the game, including seven in the first half. Senior Nicole Hinz had three, freshman Caroline Busch tossed in two and seniors Lydia Rohde and Abby Miller added one each. Hinz and Busch each had a three-pointer in the second half.
Three pointers by Rohde, Hinz and Miller sparked an 11-5 first quarter for Central and then the Lancers went on a run in the second period for a 29-11 lead at halftime.
Defense: The Lancers used a zone defense and a box-and-one to hold Dasher ace junior Arike Ogunbowale to five points in the first three quarters and 0-for-7 shooting in the first half. Junior Emma Brauer and Busch took turns staying in Ogunbowale's face and trying to keep the ball out of her hands. Ogunbowale finished with 24 points. She scored 19 points in the fourth quarter when the Lancers, trying to avoid fouls, let her drive to the basket.
Rebounding: Central had a 45-28 advantage on the boards as senior Alena Moro led the way with nine rebounds. Hinz had six and Busch and Brauer had five each.
"We told them, 'No second chances,'" coach Dan Wandrey said. "We're playing a box and one. We're playing a zone. Sometime it is hard to rebound out of those because you don't really have an assignment to block out. The kids did a really nice job, just having a feel for — am I going to block the girl out or just go grab the ball? I think they did a pretty good job of that."
Free throws: Central converted 18 of 24 free throws, including 12-for-18 in the fourth period. Central didn't attempt a free throw in the first half. DSHA struggled from the line, hitting 56 percent (9 for 16).
Answering the bell: Wandrey warned his team that the Dashers were too good a team to not make a second-half run after Central led 29-11 at halftime. DSHA did, outscoring the Lancers, 39-26, in the second half. But Central answered the Dashers' threats when they needed to.
"The kids had a deer-in-the-headlights look," Wandrey said. "I told them, 'If someone would have said to you yesterday you would have a five to six point lead over DS with five minutes to go, would you take it?' They all said, 'Well, yeah.' Then that's where we're at. So let's play like that."
DSHA cut the lead to 39-35 with 4 minutes, 38 seconds left to play when Busch made perhaps the play of the game when she nailed a long 3-pointer from the left elbow to increase Central's lead back to seven.
"I knew the score was really close," Busch said. "I was waiting for someone to make a cut, but they didn't. So I just shot and it went in."
Hinz talked about the Lancers' mind-set when DSHA put on its run.
"When they started pushing back, it kind of got to us," Hinz said. "We got nervous. We got intimidated with the ball. But that's when we knew we really had to crack down, get the shots that we wanted to, get the people we felt comfortable with with the ball when it really mattered most. It worked."
Ogunbowale countered with a jumper. Brauer hit two free throws and Taylor Drost added a free throw before Rohde hit a huge jumper from the left baseline for a 46-38 lead.
Wandrey talked about the big shots by Busch and Rohde.
"It was huge," he said about Busch's three. "She can really stroke it. We don't love first pass jack-ups, but we talked about where the gaps were in that zone. And she was in it. We got it to her, and she was in rhythm."
Rohde's shot gave Central an eight-point lead with 2:04 left to play. Wandrey said her play establishes the Lancers' plays.
"Lydia has an unbelievable pull-up shot," Wandrey said. "There has been an evolution to her game. No one works harder on developing her game than her. For us, her being that is important.
"She is not a 25-point-a-game scorer. She's a 'I'm going to dictate the action, if I can dish it and dish it,' and that's what is really important for us. Her teammates kind of feed off that. She makes such good decisions with the ball. When she's being aggressive and assertive, everything is good for us."
Hinz had a 3-pointer in the third quarter, Busch had her key three and Rohde had her big baseline jumper, but that was all the scoring from the field the Lancers managed in the second half.
"If someone told me, 'If you had three baskets in the second half do you think you would have a chance to win? I'd say no," Wandrey said. "The game was so weird. We get fouls, get to the basket. We got some free throws."
Central will travel to Menomonee Falls (3-2) on Friday and host West Allis Central (0-5) on Tuesday, both games at 7:30 p.m. That closes out the first half of the GMC schedule.
Monday, at Muskego
Central 57, Muskego 45 — The Lancers took a 12-point lead (17-5) in the first quarter and made the margin stand up the rest of the night, as they defeated Muskego in a non-conference game to extend their winning streak to seven in a row. Senior guard Lydia Rohde exploded for 26 points, including 5-for-7 from the free-throw line. Nicole Hinz had nine points, and Emma Brauer had eight.
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