DSHA sophomore all-state guard Arike Ogunbowale can score, everyone knows that and opposing teams try to defend against her array of shots any way they can.
But how do you defend against something as dazzling as what she did at the 3:52 mark of the third quarter against host Menomonee Falls Friday with the Dashers nursing a six-point lead over the short-handed Indians?
It turns out few could.
Because Ogunbowale at that point simply crossed mid-court and whipped a precise over-the-shoulder pass to teammate Shaylan Reardon under the basket for an easily converted lay-up and an eight-point lead.
It was plays like that that allowed the 7-1 Dashers to keep Falls at arm's-length throughout the second half of an important, 54-40 Greater Metro Conference basketball victory.
"We'd obviously like to see her pass rather than shoot," said Falls coach Craig Amundson, "but she is very versatile." Ogunbowale had at least five assists on the night.
Even her coach, Scott Witt, is amazed sometimes.
"It's hard to describe unless she's on your team," said Witt. "You're on offense, wondering what play to call and then the next thing you know, she's scored a basket."
"And that's only part of it. She creates more shots than she scores. She's so unselfish with the ball. You don't have to tell her to make the pass, she simply does it."
And because of that, the Dashers remained in a defacto tie for the lead in the GMC (2-0) with Sussex Hamilton while the Indians, who were without starting point guard Amber Bullock, who was out with concussion symptoms, fell to 1-2 in league play and 3-3 overall.
Falls had beaten DSHA twice last season.
Amundson, who went with a rotation of senior Haley Precia and junior Anna Smalley at point guard, was pleased with the intensity of the effort, the tenaciousness the team showed on the boards and its simple refusal to go away, but noted that the Indians just couldn't hit enough shots.
"We played hard, we rebounded well but we just couldn't get over the hump," he said.
Falls had the lead five times in the first quarter, the last time at 11-9 on a hoop by Precia at the 1:20 mark, but the Dashers then got a driving lay-up from Ogunbowale with four seconds left to go up, 13-11.
"We seemed to win every quarter by just a little bit and that seemed to be enough," said Witt.
Falls last tied the score at 15-all on a shot from the wing by Erin Otzelberger at the 5:04 mark of the second quarter, but then Ogunbowale, who had collegiate visitors from Michigan, Marquette and Notre Dame in attendance this night, simply took over.
She slipped off a screen and hit a perfectly designed three-pointer from the wing at the 4:48 mark and then after a Falls' miss, she drove hard to the basket, cashed the lay-up, was fouled and converted the three-point play at the four-minute mark for a 21-15 advantage.
Falls got to within three on a lay-up by Mikayla Robertson at the 2:41 mark of the second, but those would be the Indians' last points of the quarter, as Ogunbowale hit three free throws down the stretch for a 25-19 lead at the break.
She would score 11 of the team's 12 points in the second session.
The Indians' chances took a major hit in the first minute of the third quarter when Precia picked up both her third and fourth fouls within 22 seconds of each other.
Smalley battled gamely at the point the rest of the third ("She was a warrior tonight," said Amundson), but sometimes was just a little overmatched.
The Indians got the lead down to 33-29 at the 2:11 mark on a post shot by senior center Erin Crownover, who led Falls with 19 hard-won points.
It was still only a margin of five going into the last minute of the third, but then Ogunbowale hit two free throws, and on an in-bounds play, senior guard Maggie Novak hit a baseline dagger of a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 43-33.
The Indians never got within eight after that.
"This was a big monkey off our backs," said Witt. "They got us twice last year and even though they outmuscled us a bit on the boards tonight, we competed well and got an important win."
Amundson, whose team began the season with high expectations, knows that his squad now has a high mountain to climb if it wants to get back into the GMC race. The Indians will play at Germantown at 6 p.m. Saturday night in a nonconference game and will get back into the league fray on Tuesday, when they head over to take on unbeaten defending GMC champ Sussex Hamilton.
"We knew this game would be difficult without Amber but I thought it was one of our better all-around efforts," he said. "Staying in the league race is going to be difficult too. It's literally come down to that old cliche' for us: One game at a time."
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