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Indians beat North, to meet Germantown for state berth

March 12, 2009

The chant went up from the Menomonee Falls student section at the Al McGuire Center Thursday night with just seconds remaining in the Indians 57-49 WIAA sectional semifinal victory over Waukesha North.

"We want Germantown. We want Germantown," roared the Indian faithful.

And the Indians will get the Warhawks on the ultimate stage, Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. back at the Al, as the pair of local rivals will get to settle a grudge and see who will gain a coveted WIAA State Tournament berth.

"This is great," Indian coach Ben Siebert said. "We're not worried about who were playing now. We're just happy that we're still playing."

The Indians (15-8) will be vying for their first ever state berth while Germantown (20-2) will be looking for its second consecutive slot. The Warhawks advanced with a 61-46 victory over Hartford earlier in the evening at the Al.

"We'll be ready, we'll be ready," said Warhawks coach Steve Showalter quietly as he watched the finish of the North-Falls game.

The Indians are playing in their first sectional final since 2002. They have not lost to a sub-.500 team this season and in the case of seven of their eight losses, the teams were still competing on the sectional level.

That includes Germantown, which edged Falls in a two-point thriller back in the Warhawks gym on a snowy December night. Now it promises to be a relatively balmy (high 40s and sunny forecast) day on Saturday, as the Indians seek to gain some highly-coveted respect.

Senior guard Connor Beaudoin reminded the Indians of that before the game, noting that an on-line survey on a statewide basketball website gave Falls only a 16 percent chance of winning against North.

"We need to shut the critics down, we need everybody to contribute," he shouted to his enthusiastic teammates outside the locker just before the game.

And that they did, even responding to adversity when starting forward Jonathan Phillips had to leave the game just three minutes in, when he aggravated a shoulder injury he suffered in practice earlier this week.

But that did not slow down the Indians. After a see-saw first few minutes with the Northstars (15-8), Falls gained a 17-13 first quarter advantage.

A 6-0 run by the Northstars early in the second period gave them a 21-19 lead but Falls closed out the half with an 11-3 run to take the lead for good at 30-24. Freshman J.P. Tokoto had five of his first-half 14 points in the burst.

North kept it close in the first half by virtue of a huge advantage on the foul line (nine of 14 as compared to just one of one for Falls), but in the second half, that would change.

In that session, the Indians adapted the Northstars slower tactics and used them to their advantage, gaining a substantial edge on the foul line. They would hit 18 of 23 free throws in the half as compared to just eight of 14 for North.

"It has not been a strength of ours all season," Siebert said. '"Only mid-to-upper 60s (percent), but we knocked them down when we needed to."

Indeed they did, as after a 3-pointer by Matt Becker of North cut the advantage to 49-45 (the closest it would be all half) with just 50 seconds to go, the Indians would knock down eight straight charity tosses. Beaudoin, John Cording, Tokoto and Adam Rubatt all swished a brace of throws.

Lee Becker, who fouled out late, led Falls with 17 while Tokoto had 16, Rubatt nine and Cording eight.

Beaudoin, who struggled mightily from the field (zero for eight) but who also had two steals and two assists, thinks the Indians found the respect they deserve.

"Make us the underdog everytime," he said. "We'll take it. Let everyone think that. ..We knew we had the ability to put things together. We knew we had the talent. We just had to put all our adversity behind us and go to practice everyday."

Siebert could not be any prouder.

"All these kids have grown so much since our 1-5 start," he said. "They've gotten more confident. You can see it on the floor."

 

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