Like any young team would, the Shorewood girls inexplicably threw the ball around the court and missed way too many free throws (15 of them) in its 50-43 WIAA D2 regional quarterfinal victory against area rival Messmer on Tuesday night.
But those same kids also came up with big plays too, like freshman forward Grace Hayes finding freshman guard Aisling Moloney for an easy key bucket to make it 41-34 after the Bishops had closed the deficit to five with 5:28 to go.
After Messmer (5-16) was able to cut the deficit to its closest since early in the first quarter at 41-38 with 4:10 remaining, freshmen came up big again.
After Shorewood junior guard Johnna Odom got two key buckets to stem that tide, the Greyhounds still weren't out of the woods, as the Bishops' Arianna Williams converted a three-point play with 2:34 to go to cut the margin to 45-41.
But then Moloney and fellow frosh Ashley Eimers both hit a pair of free throws apiece in the final two minutes to make it 49-41, and coach Jeff Eimers, Ashley's father, was finally able to breath a bit more easily. The Greyhounds won their final home game of the season.
"We played a lot of young kids tonight," he said. "It's good to advance in the tournament. This is our seventh win, which matches what we had last year and now we get the chance to gain some more good experience."
The Greyhounds (7-16 overall) will now travel to North Shore Conference tri-champ and sectional top seed Whitefish Bay (18-4) at 7 p.m. Friday in a D2 regional semifinal.
"We've played teams like Pewaukee and New Berlin Eisenhower, so we know what it's like," said Eimers. It's also the second year in a row that Shorewood has won its opening round WIAA tournament game.
Shorewood had a 9-6 lead in the first quarter against the Bishops and then proceeded to get consecutive buckets from Odom, Moloney and Ashley Eimers to take a 15-6 lead at the end of the session.
It was 26-14 at the half.
Messmer scored the first six points of the third quarter to cut the margin to 26-20, but then a 7-0 Shorewood run later in the period, highlighted by a Robbie Holland shot from the lane, gave the Greyhounds their biggest lead of the night at 37-23 with 2:34 left in the third.
Junior forward Margaret O'Brien led Shorewood with 16 points while Odom had 10, and Moloney eight. Williams and LaShawna Patterson had 13 apiece for the Bishops.
Eimers admits that the Greyhounds will have to rebound better and hit more free throws (just eight of 23 this night) if they want to have a chance at the powerful Blue Dukes on Friday night, but he appreciated the good step forward his team took.
"We don't get many home playoff games, so this was a big deal," he said, "and this was one of our bigger crowds tonight and that made it really fun."
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