The success the Shorewood girls basketball team has achieved over the last five years or so has strong foundations and even stronger loyalties.
Take for example, the Greyhounds' own Thanksgiving Holiday Tournament last weekend, which they finished second in, falling to 2016 WIAA D3 state runner-up Milwaukee School of Languages, 56-33, in the Nov. 26 final.
Shorewood coach Jeff Eimers was happy to point out that over the course of the two-day tourney, all seven seniors who graduated off of last season's excellent 17-7 team, including three-time Now All-Suburban team selection Jada Stackhouse, made at least one if not both games.
"You just love to see that kind of thing," Eimers said.
The 2016-17 version of the Greyhounds, thinner and younger, have responded well to that support. They defeated Milwaukee North (62-25) in the in the tourney semifinal on Nov. 25 and earlier in the week downed West Allis Central, 65-42, to improve to 3-1 overall on the still young season.
"It was a little disappointing (the School of Languages game)," Eimers said. "We noticed that Messmer gave them a good game (in their semifinal), but one of our parents came up and told us that virtually the entire (Languages) team plays AAU ball. They were just tough."
The Greyhounds will ease into their Woodland Conference slate, beginning with a 7:30 p.m. home game Friday, Dec. 2, against Greendale. They will then host formidable Pius XI on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
Eimers said the team will work on a little more physical toughness this week and will also work on their conditioning because of the thinner than usual (nine full-time players) varsity roster. Some players need to buck their confidence a little bit, he added, but he pointed out that the team still has clarity and focus about one thing.
"We still say that we can compete and play with anyone in the (Woodland East) division," he said. "If people think we're going to give away the division title to Cudahy, they're wrong. Cudahy is very strong, with all kinds of experience, but we'll have something to say about it."
Shorewood has won three straight Woodland East titles.
School of Languages (4-0) had a lot to say about the Shorewood tourney final, taking a 32-22 halftime lead and then holding the Greyhounds to only 11 points in the second half in coasting to the title.
Freshman guard Khamya McNeal continued her strong start to the season with 13 points, while Olivia Kessenich had eight. Shorewood could have helped itself at the foul line, as it hit only eight of 22 attempts.
In the semifinal against North, Shorewood earned a 33-20 lead at the half and then held North to just five points in the second half. McNeal had 17 points, Kessenich 14, Natalie Tomaszewski nine and Olivia Reilly eight.
McNeal went off for 27 points in the win over Central as the Greyhounds took a 35-21 halftime lead. Tomaszewski had 14 points and McKayla McMurry 12.
Eimers said McNeal is really going to make a difference in the program.
"She's a very tough player," he said. "We've never had a talent like that before. She's also very coachable and is very interested in getting better."