MEQUON — The Homestead girls basketball team put the final touch on an undefeated season in the North Shore Conference on Friday, earning a 64-53 triumph to finish 18-0 in league play.
“I think this is just a special group. It’s hard when you have a target on your back and then to go undefeated with that target (is impressive),” Homestead head coach Corey Wolf said. “We’ve seen some good games and probably won some games we’ve been outplayed and other games, we played well.
“I think more than anything, for a team to reach their potential they always have to have a good group of seniors,” she added. “They have to have a group of seniors that really cares more about the accomplishments of their team and their team being successful versus their individual accolades. I think these three are the epitome of that. They’ve basically just done everything to make their team better.”
The Highlanders celebrated Senior Night and the team’s trio of seniors — Delaney Buzzell, Zoe Mueller and Sam Wolf — all contributed to the win.
Buzzell netted four points, hauled in five rebounds and made four steals. Mueller also scored four points. Sam Wolf gave Homestead the lead with a 3-pointer to open the scoring, which inadvertently led to the club being assessed a technical foul a short time later.
Cedarburg turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, and players on the bench were under the impression the Bulldogs had called a timeout, so they raced onto the court to congratulate their teammate.
“It was great until all our players ran out onto the court and we got a bench technical,” coach Wolf said. “They were so excited for her. Sam hasn’t taken a lot of shots, she kind of won’t shoot, and I think Sam, as all our seniors are, she’s really just in it for the team, so they were just really happy for her. I think they were more happy for her than she was for herself.”
The technical really did not have too much impact, other than coach Wolf needing to be seated for the rest of the contest, as Cedarburg missed the corresponding foul shots. Homestead rode the wave of its early momentum to jump out to a 13-0 lead.
“We watched a lot of film on that first game and we felt there were things we could have been better at,” coach Wolf said, alluding to Homestead’s 70-65 win in overtime when the clubs met Jan. 13. “I thought we shared the ball really well, I thought we played together, I thought defensively we were good at the beginning of the game. You always look good when you hit shots. We had open shots and we hit them. When that happens, it makes the game look pretty easy.”
Cedarburg eventually got it going, ending Homestead’s early run and eventually getting as close as 20-13 midway through the half. Mimi Hart played a big role in that, scoring 10 of the visitor’s points during a 13-7 rally.
“Mimi’s had a really good year,” Cedarburg head coach Dave Ross said about the sophomore. “About halfway through the season, she started to figure out that she’s really good around the basket and she can shoot it from 35 feet out. That’s a really good combination. That means you can do anything. She brought it tonight.”
However, that would be as close as Cedarburg would get.
“We were clawing back, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole against the best team in the conference,” Ross said. “Homestead made us play too fast. We were indecisive. We missed easy shots. I think we missed 11 shots from three feet in.”
While the Bulldogs lost, Ross noted his team was going to finish second in the NSC no matter what the outcome was.
“The game itself you want to win, but if you don’t, it’s not like we were going to take first place,” the Cedarburg coach said. “But, it helps me now go back and go OK, we’ve got to work on a couple things here.”
The Bulldogs finish the regular season with an overall mark of 19-5. Cedarburg will host the winner of a game between West Bend East and West Bend West in a regional semifinal game set for Friday at 7 p.m.
Madison Fitzgibbon led the Highlanders with 17 points and added five rebounds and four assists. Emma Wolf also netted 12 points in the win.
“I think Emma just is a calming influence for us. She doesn’t play outside of her role,” coach Wolf said about the sophomore. “She hit some free throws, she hit some shots, but more than anything, for me, it’s just taking care of the ball and getting in our offense and moving the ball and getting good looks when you’re in the game, not necessarily looks for you, but looks for your teammates.”
Homestead finished the regular season 21-3 overall. The Highlanders start the postseason Friday, hosting either Manitowoc Lincoln or Green Bay East at 7 p.m.