It's been awhile for both a home game in the WIAA tourney and a home win in such circumstances for the Menomonee Falls girls basketball team.
So it was good for veteran coach Craig Amundson to see his Indians get off to a fast start and ease their way to a 57-43 regional semifinal win over a depleted but game Homestead squad Tuesday night.
"We've been seeing a lot of good teams lately and we were competitive in all of them but we just couldn't finish them off," he said, "so we were excited to get a win in a situation like this, especially at home. It was our first win in the (WIAA) playoffs in three years."
With the victory, the Indians improved to 12-11 and advance to a 3:30 p.m. Saturday WIAA regional final game at second sectional seed Kettle Moraine (16-6). They also avenged a 53-49 season opening loss to the Highlanders.
Meanwhile, Homestead, which was again playing without injured point guard Karley Marotta, finished the season at 6-17.
"They ran the same exact offense and the same exact defense we expected them to run, but we sort of played right into their hands," said Highlander coach Matt Heuser. "We woke up a bit in the second half, but it was a bit too late and too much of a hole for us to climb out of."
Indeed, as Homestead hit only four of 17 first half shots and watched as the Indians worked both the perimeter and the inside to earn a 24-9 lead.
Falls then put on a 10-1 run to start the third quarter to push the margin up to 34-10 with 5:01 remaining. The Highlanders, behind the fiercely competitive effort of senior forward Siena Mitman (21 points) fought back with a 14-4 run of their own to close out the third quarter, but it was still 38-24 Falls at that point.
A drive by Hannah Young (16 points) cut the margin to 47-35 with 2:53 remaining, but both Alex Poole, who scored 15 of her 20 points in the second half, and Rachel Defnet (12 points) hit a pair of free throws for Falls to end any drama.
Mitman fouled out with 1:57 remaining to effectively end any Homestead hopes.
"We were pretty motivated to play this game," said Amundson. "We wanted to show much we had improved from that first time around with them. I really thought that this was one of our more complete games as we were getting both good inside and outside looks."
Erin Crownover had nine points and Mikayla Robertson eight for the Indians.
"We got it down to a four possession game at one point and I was proud of our effort," said Heuser. "I give Siena (Mitman) a ton of credit. She has been the backbone of this team all season. She has done so much to improve herself as both a player and a person."
Poole said that the Indians have improved a great deal too over the course of the season, especially for a team that has no seniors on it.
"Last year, we had five seniors on the team, so we were all looking up to them," said the junior forward. "This time around, we have to look out for each other, with the juniors (five all told) looking out for the rest."
"We've done a good job of that. Most of us have been together since seventh grade so we've had a lot of chances to bond and get to know each other."
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