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Homestead girls show character in tight loss to Cedarburg

Highlanders head to Janesville

Dec. 23, 2013

The Highlanders came back from such a huge deficit and gave themselves such a realistic chance of winning at the end, that Homestead girls basketball coach Matt Heuser does not consider the heartbreaking, 60-57, loss to defending North Shore champion Cedarburg on Friday a failure.

"I saw a lot of maturity in the second half," Heuser said. "People take for granted how young we are, but at times we were running four sophomores and a junior out there, but they grew up a bit. I don't think we let that one get away. We just showed that we could play with a team like that.

"It's a sign of change."

The Highlanders, who also survived a bad night against a struggling Nicolet team in a 39-31 overtime decision on Dec. 17, will enter the holidays with a 5-1 overall record. They will take part in the Janesville Craig Tourney Friday and Saturday with a bit of a handicap as at least six of the 13 varsity players will be on holiday trips while four of the 10 junior varsity players will be, too.

Heuser said the team will build in the new year and try to be part of what could be a very competitive North Shore race as the Highlanders are tied with Whitefish Bay and Cedarburg for second at 3-1 in league play behind unbeaten Germantown (4-0).

The home game with Germantown on Jan. 10 is looming large, he said.

And it should be because of the character the Highlanders showed against Cedarburg.

The Bulldogs had a 39-23 lead at the half and then scored the first seven points of the third quarter to go up 46-23 with with about 51/2 minutes to go in the session.

"But then we ended the quarter on a 10-0 run (to close the gap to 46-33)," Heuser said.

Foul trouble

A major problem, however, is that the Highlanders' best player, Taylor McIlwraith (17 points) picked up her fourth foul late in the third. Further, when Heuser brought her back early in the fourth, it didn't take her long to foul out.

But tenacity and a pair of big 3-pointers from Christal Hearn kept Homestead close as the Highlanders cut the deficit to two on two occasions using high-pressure defense to turn the Bulldogs over regularly in the final period.

"I think we turned them over on three straight possessions in one sequence and scored each time," said Heuser.

But 6-4 center Allie Barber (19 points) kept the Bulldogs above the waterline.

Homestead had only one real shot at the lead and Marciarae Harmon's 3-pointer with just seconds to go, was a bit too late.

Mary Kate Simon added 15, Olivia Covill eight and Harmon seven. Covill grabbed 10 rebounds and Simon eight.

Shooting woes

The Highlanders struggled mightily against the winless Nicolet squad on Dec. 17, hitting only 10-of-62 shots. They were actually down five early in the fourth period, but then held the Knights scoreless the rest of the way, forcing overtime at 31-all and then outscoring Nicolet 8-0 in the extra session.

Simon scored the game-winner in overtime with the assist going to McIlwraith.

Harmon had 15 points including 11-of-15 free throws, to lead the way while McIlwraith had eight and Hearn six.

"I think this was the first time that we won at Nicolet in seven years and maybe only the third time in 13 years," Heuser said. "It's been a house of horrors for us."

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