It was a learning experience for both sides Friday night when the host Whitefish Bay girls basketball team used a 22-7 start to help knock area rival Shorewood from the unbeaten ranks, 50-38, in the Blue Dukes own tourney.
Shorewood coach Jeff Eimers thought his team picked up knowledge about its weaknesses after the Greyhounds (7-1 overall) best start in decades, while the still young Blue Dukes (5-2) learned what it was like to face a zone defense for an entire game as they won their fourth tilt in a row.
"Sometimes you don't play well and win and you still pick up some good lessons," said Bay coach Dave Markson. "There were positives to take out of this because Shorewood is a well-rounded team."
"We got the game close (in the third period)," said Eimers, "but we knew we would have to play a pretty much perfect game to pull this one out. ...It could have been a blow-out but we came back."
The two squads will get to test their theories on Saturday when they come back to Bay, as Shorewood plays Nicolet at 2:15 p.m. and Bay takes on Greendale at 4 p.m.
The host Blue Dukes looked like they were going to run away and hide from the Greyhounds in the first quarter. Resurgent Shorewood, in its first shot at a truly excellent season in many, many years, appeared that it was going to get a cold dose of reality tossed in its face by its hosts.
Bay, using high-pressure sophomore guard Kaitlyn Jackson (15 deflections on the night) to harry and harass the Greyhound guards, forced eight first period Shorewood turnovers. Junior forward Emma Jankowski hit a 3-pointer for the Blue Dukes at the 6:30 mark of the first and that started a 17-3 run that included a 9-0 effort at its end.
"We also saw that we really needed to work on our ballhandling," said Eimers in a manner of understatement.
Jankowski would hit two treys in the first and score seven of her game-high 17 points in the session.
Only when junior forward Ashley Eimers (the coach's daughter) hit two free throws for Shorewood with 13 seconds left in the first did the streak end.
Then slowly and steadily, the Greyhounds began to work their way back into the game, as their 1-3-1 zone defense kept the Blue Dukes from exploiting the size advantage they had inside with 6-2 Northwestern recruit Maya Jonas and 6-1 Ashley Reed. Bay was forced into jacking far too many 3-point tries for its own good.
It was still 26-11 with 4:57 left in the half when Shorewood went on a 9-0 run to close the gap to 26-20 with 38 seconds left. Jonas finally hit a fastbreak lay-up with seven seconds to go to make it 28-20.
"We were getting crushed on defense in the first quarter," said Coach Eimers. "We couldn't do anything right. Then we got the 1-3-1 working and that helped."
"We came out ready to play," said Markson. "Then we got sloppy. We threw passes that they were able to deflect and we were never really able to get momentum back.
"It was the first time we saw a team that played zone the entire game and that didn't work in our favor as we have a team that tends to be impatient. We encourage the girls to shoot, we're not restrictive that way, but we have to know what a good situation is."
Bay's troubles continued in the third quarter as Shorewood put on even more pressure. It was 30-20 early in the period when the Greyhounds went on an 8-0 run to close the gap.
When Ashley Eimers hit post Jada Stackhouse with a deft interior pass and Stackhouse converted the lay-up with 3:58 left, it was 30-28 and the Greyhound side of the Bay Fieldhouse was getting noisy.
Markson was impressed with the play of Ashley Eimers, who had a strong all-around game including a team-high 15 points (including seven of 10 free throws).
"She looked like an All-American out there at times," said Markson.
But that was to be the high-point for the Greyhounds, as the Blue Dukes started to pack it in with a 2-3 zone and Shorewood had a hard time from the perimeter.
"Normally we do well from the three-point line but tonight we just couldn't buy one," said Coach Eimers.
Bay closed the period on an 8-4 run including two buckets by Reed to make it 38-32 going into the fourth.
A basket by Ashley Eimers in the first minute of the fourth made it 38-34 Bay, but then Shorewood would go another six minutes without scoring. The Greyhounds would hit only two of 19 shots in the fourth as Bay went on 8-0 run to make it 46-34 with two minutes to go.
"We've dabbled with that zone (the 2-3) before and we're quite effective with it," said Markson. "It helped us swing the game back in our favor."
Aside from Ashley Eimers' effort, Shorewood got eight points from guard Aisling Moloney and seven from Stackhouse.
"The difference in the game waas the three," said Coach Eimers. "We normally hit them but we didn't tonight. ...I was happy with the girls. We got it to two (after the poor start) and our free throws (15 of 23 on the night) were much improved."
After Jankowski, Reed had 12 points and Jonas eight to go along with several assists, rebounds and blocked shots.
Jonas, after missing a good chunk of last season recovering from knee surgery, is moving freely and running the floor well. Her versalitility gives the Blue Dukes a weapon that is hard to match up with.
Overall, Markson is pleased with the direction of his team, despite only two seniors (Jonas and Catie McBride).
"It was an interesting night," he said. "The girls put forth their best effort, but didn't show their best effort. That's something we can work on."
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