Still figuring things out, the Woodland Conference East champion Shorewood girls basketball team overcame a shaky first half and a wobbly finish to beat Greendale, 47-40, in its league opener on Dec. 2.
"We had an eight-point lead with three minutes to go," said coach Jeff Eimers.
Then things got interesting.
"They hit a 3," Eimers said. "Then Khamya (star guard McNeal) picks up a charge, her fourth foul, and that wipes out a basket. Then they hit a bank shot 3, and then we don't score.They hit another 3, and then we're down one."
But McNeal, who scored all 11 of the Greyhounds' points in the last nine minutes of the game, got Shorewood back into the lead. She wound up fouling out on another charge with less than a minute to go. The Greyhounds then got a big stop and a big rebound from McKayla McMurry, and they were able to hold on from there.
Despite all the drama, Eimers called it a "fun game".
"It was a huge win for us," Eimers said. "It was a real character builder. The girls did what they had to down the stretch. We also got great support from the crowd, and the pep band was also there."
The victory improved the Greyhounds to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in league play. They took on a strong Pius XI squad from the Woodland West on Dec. 6 and then will visit another West Division team, Tosa West, on Friday, Dec. 9. They will visit area rival Brown Deer on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in a Woodland East contest.
Eimers would like to see a little more overall consistency and a little better free throw shooting (10-of-26 for the Greendale game) but is pleased with the progress.
"I think we're making major improvements on the defensive end," he said.
He would also like to improve the depth as both McNeal, a freshman and senior forward Olivia Reilly never came off the floor.
The Greyhounds did get off to a slow start against Greendale, falling behind, 10-2, before rallying to take a 17-12 lead. The Panthers, however, came back to take a 22-19 lead at the half. Shorewood got the lead in the second half, holding the Panthers scoreless for the first eight minutes of the session.
McNeal led the way with 24 points. She did struggle at the foul line, however (8-of-18). Olivia Kessenich added 11, and Natalie Tomaszewski six. Eimers praised the effort of McMurry. She didn't score but made an impact elsewhere.
"She did a great job on the defensive end and on the boards," Eimers said. "Her length allowed her to get a number of tipped and deflected passes."