Menomonee Falls - The Brookfield Central girls basketball team started Friday night's Greater Metro Conference opener with a 3-pointer, and it was a sign of things to come in the Lancers' 51-42 victory over Menomonee Falls.
Sophomore guard Emma Brauer gave the Lancers an early 3-0 lead over the visiting Indians, and junior guard and captain Lydia Rohde followed with four first-half triples to give the Lancers a 26-19 halftime lead.
"Lydia is a big, strong athletic kid with a great stroke," Brookfield Central head coach Dan Wandrey said. "She's such an unselfish player that sometimes it's hard to get her to be that assertive offensively. But you saw what she can do."
The Indians remained competitive, pulling within four in the second half, but the Lancers remained in control and held a lead that grew as large as 11 on the night. A competitive contest was expected after the teams finished third and fourth in the conference last season and split their head-to-head matchups.
"We had a slow start, but we fought hard and got back, we got it into within four," Menomonee Falls head coach Craig Amundson said. "We threw every defense we had at them. Rohde was pretty good tonight."
At several moments in the second half, the Indians appeared ready to make a run, but turnovers or big plays on Central's side stymied their rallies.
"We fought really hard," Amundson said. "That's why we really weren't terribly disappointed with the effort. It's not like our kids weren't trying. We worked really hard right until the end. But the feeling I got was, we just couldn't get over that hump."
Wandrey offered a similar analysis.
"I'm kind of a doomsday guy," he said. "It felt like it was at 42-38 for a really long time, and they just couldn't get over that hump. I was thinking if they make a couple of plays, we could be in trouble, but our kids were on the floor, we were diving, and we just made the difference in hustle points."
The Lancers, who improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Greater Metro, visit Slinger for their first road test of the season on Tuesday night, while the Indians (2-2, 0-1) try to bounce back at Wauwatosa East.
Looking ahead, Amundson said it wouldn't get any easier for the Indians.
"This is the toughest schedule I've had in my 16 years as the varsity coach, and that includes conference and our nonconference schedule," he said. "Brookfield Central is good. There's never going to be an easy game all year. If we look too far ahead in the schedule, you might get a stomachache. All we can do is focus on our mistakes and try to correct them in practice and work on improving. And we have been improving."
Wandrey said the conference opener was a statement game for the Lancers and singled out the play of Rohde, who finished with 21 points, and junior forward Jasmine Lewis, who helped defend the Indians senior standout center Erin Crownover on the interior.
"We have sometimes struggled over the last few years with our consistency and intensity, and I don't think we had that at all tonight. Jasmine is great. She's an undersized inside player, maybe a slow-footed outside player, but whatever deficiencies she has, she makes up for it in hustle."
Wandrey added a quality win early in the season could provide a boost of confidence for a team still trying to find itself.
"Last year there was this separation in our league and we were right in the middle," he said. "We didn't compete with the top teams; we just handled the weaker ones. We've been talking about our identity, and I think this tells us we can compete with those teams at the top of the conference."
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