Fischer takes over the leadership role for Germantown
7-0 center leads Warhawks to 3-0 start
The legend is growing to be as large as the man himself.
And it's only three games into his senior season for Germantown's 7-0 center Luke Fischer as he looks to carry the top-ranked, defending state champion Warhawks basketball team back to the promised land.
In the impressive season-opening, 78-62, win over highly-regarded North Shore rival Homestead, everyone there saw the 28 points that the all-everything Indiana recruit had.
They also, no doubt, couldn't miss many of his seven blocked shots or the many other shots he simply changed by his presence underneath. The standout there was the flying block out of bounds of a baseline 3-point attempt by the Highlanders' talented guard Jake Laihinen, who could only shake his head in disbelief at Fischer's range.
But there were a lot of other things going on with the versatile and athletic center that the average fan may have missed.
Like how he served as a press break in the middle of the court, occasionally bringing the ball across in a pinch, or how veteran coach Steve Showalter would occasionally place him in the high post, where he could easily scan the entire lane area looking for an open teammate (he recorded at least three assists this way).
He also served as decoy on the Warhawks' favorite play, as he came back into the lineup with just two seconds left in the first half, and inbounded a perfect lob to Jake Showalter for an easy hoop that made it a 14-point lead at the break.
And then there's how his repertoire of shots have extended well beyond the dunk and the 2-foot bank shot, which you would think would be a staple of a man his size.
Take, for instance, a sequence in the middle of the second quarter, when the Warhawks were on a 20-4 run that erased an 18-16 early period deficit.
He scored on a nifty up-and-under move, then when the Highlanders were trying to pull the ball out and slow the fast-paced Warhawks down, he used his long arms to get a steal and went in for an emphatic dunk.
He then hit a traditional post move hoop and finished off his mini-outburst with a pair of deftly dropped free throws.
Fischer had 10 points in the quarter, 17 for the half and was well on his way toward making a strong impression on Showalter.
He'll have to work hard to continue to impress Showalter, who challenged him shortly after the Warhawks' state championship confetti had been swept off the Kohl Center floor In Madison in March.
Zak Showalter, Josh Mongan, Dan Studer and all their friends would soon all be gone to graduation, and if the Warhawks were to stay on the top of the mountain, Fischer would have to be the one to carry them on his back.
"Right after the season ended, coach put me in the spotlight," Fischer said. "He told me to do whatever it took to win. It was a good thing to know."
Coach Showalter's spotlight is even brighter now, now that the season has started.
"I expect him (Fischer) to do everything," he said. "Get every rebound, make every shot. ... I expect him to do all this because it's his time."
Fischer is indeed enjoying his time this senior year. He's finalized his commitment to Indiana, which is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation and which turned in an emphatic rout of powerful North Carolina the same night the Warhawks opened their season against Homestead.
Cody Zeller, the Hoosiers' 7-0 leader, paced Indiana in that win and has served as inspiration for Fischer's expanding role with Germantown.
"I've been working a lot on my moves and a lot of the things you're seeing are things that Cody does," Fischer said. "I'm trying to incorporate some of his game into mine. That's where that all comes from."
He also got some inspiration from the Germantown boys volleyball team's second straight North Shore Conference championship and second straight berth into the WIAA State Tournament this fall. Fischer was a dominant opposite-side hitter for the team and earned an impressive first-team all-state honor despite being only in his second year of playing the game.
Fischer credits his volleyball experience with helping his basketball defense. Despite being the help-side stopper on almost every play with his hand in the face of almost every shooter, he didn't pick up a foul until the 5:52 mark of the fourth quarter against Homestead.
"That's all volleyball," Fischer said. "I've been working really hard on my timing and that (volleyball) really helps."
It was a bit of a different situation in the second game with Bay on Friday as he got into first half foul trouble and sat out 11 minutes as his teammates still ran up an impressive 55-point total. But in the third quarter, he scored 10 of his 15 points, including the final four in emphatic fashion as he made a long drive from near center court while the defense parted like the proverbial Red Sea and he exploded for a noisy, two-handed dunk.
And then, just 21 seconds later, he leaked out after a defensive stop took an outlet pass and then again flushed one home as the hometown Warhawks fans filled the gym with their noisy approval.
But he saved his best for last on Saturday night in the 66-64 thriller over Brookfield Central, a game where not much went right for Germantown in the second half (see separate story), but where Fischer was around at the end to gather up a teammate's miss, reverse trajectory and bank home the game-winner at the buzzer with his off hand.
The exciting and hefty early slate didn't phase Fischer at all
"We've had a lot of practice," said Fischer with a laugh. "I prefer the games instead."
Coach Showalter likes just the opposite.
"We've got a lot of work to do," he said coming down the stairs to the lockers after the Homestead tilt. "That was a wild brawl of a game. ... This team is much different (than last year's 28-0 squad). They're still learning. I'm still learning.
"You tell the guys how hard it is when certain teams play us and I don't think they really believe all that until we actually play a team as good as the one we saw tonight.
"We took a couple of shots to the jaw, we wobbled, but we didn't fall."
The big guy in the middle wouldn't let them.
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