Bay, Nicolet girls to butt heads for NSC hoops lead Friday

Blue Dukes need win to pull into tie

Feb. 18, 2012

The gauze and the bandages are ready for the Whitefish Bay girls basketball team.

Now the only question that remains is: Will the Blue Dukes need them when they face down visiting Nicolet for a share of the North Shore Conference lead on Friday?

"You can only warm your feet over the coals for so long before you have to stick them into the fire," Blue Dukes coach Greg Capper said. "It's time for us to become firewalkers."

Bay (10-2 in NSC play and 16-3 overall) will need to be bold if it wants to survive the week, which included powerful Whitefish Bay Dominican as a warm-up on Tuesday (see for details).

The Blue Dukes have ratcheted up the intensity of their schedule lately and have gotten their feet burned for their trouble, including two difficult losses, one to DSHA and a critical defeat at the hands of NSC rival Grafton (10-2, 15-4) on Friday (see separate story).

Agnew will face Knights

But Capper knows those games have only been a prelude to the scorching-hot intensity Bay will feel when it takes on Nicolet (11-1, 17-2). The Knights edged Bay, 40-34, on Jan. 20, but the Blue Dukes were without forward Lyndsey Agnew then, who was out with an injury.

Agnew is fully healthy and Nicolet coach Corey Wolf, whose team dispatched Cedarburg, 68-43, on Feb. 16 to break a two-game losing streak, knows that the Blue Dukes will be playing with some sense of urgency.

The Knights are looking for their fourth straight conference title, which they will clinch a share of, if they beat Bay. Both teams will have one league game remaining after this one.

"The goal since day one has been to win the conference title," Wolf said. "We have to get that one first before we get anything else. They (the Blue Dukes) have a lot of potential. The key for them, is that their defense is so good that you can't give up anything easy because you know you're not going to see anything like that back on your end.

"We know we didn't see their best game the last time around."

Nicolet back on track

Nicolet, which has struggled a bit in recent weeks finding the defensive spark that helped lift them to 16 wins in a row, found a little bit of it against Cedarburg, burying the Bulldogs with a 23-7 second quarter run that made it 41-20 at the break.

"We got back to wreaking a little havoc," Wolf said. "We played hard, we played fast, we ran the court well and we just crushed the boards."

The Knights had 10 different people score led by Brittney Fair with 20, Courtney Smith with 13 and Briana Gray with 12. Wolf is crossing her fingers for her own team's health heading into the Bay game, as the Knights had to play Cedarburg without stalwart forward Lanoira Duhart as well as guard Michelle Peltz, both of whom were out with injuries.

If neither of those players can go Friday, Wolf has gained a lot more confidence in junior guard Brooke Silverberg, senior post Jasmine Stacy and senior guard Chelsy McDowell, all of whom had good games against the Bulldogs.

And injuries or no, Capper is putting nothing past Wolf and the Knights.

"We've told the kids that games like this are why we've done the things we've done the last three to five year," he said, "and now it's time to see where we stand among the really good teams. I just hope all our lessons stick, because dadgumit, we have to stick our feet in the fire and get after it."

Wolf is just happy that her battle-tested crew appears ready for the challenge.

"We know we control our own destiny here," she said, "and the kids prefer not to share (the conference title). That being said, we have a lot of respect for Bay. It should be a fun one."

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