Two weeks ago, the young, short-handed Whitefish Bay boys basketball team was looking for a way out of a midseason slump.
Fast forward to Jan. 13, when the Blue Dukes turned in an inspired effort in overpowering North Shore rival Homestead, 82-71, and it's safe to say they might seriously be on the road to figuring things out as they improved their modest winning streak to three games.
"It was a game where we applied the process," said coach Chris Millner. "We're looking to get better after every practice, every game, taking the things we work on in practice and then applying them to games.
"It's been very encouraging."
With the win, the Blue Dukes moved into a three-way tie for second in the North Shore Conference with Homestead and Grafton at 4-2, while Cedarburg is 6-0 in league play.
The Blue Dukes are in the midst of exams this week and will host Grafton in a 7:30 p.m. tilt Friday, Jan. 20. They will then travel to Cedarburg on Tuesday, Jan. 24.
"These will be great games," Millner said.
Millner said the team has learned a great deal since the frustrating loss to Brown Deer on Jan. 3.
"We looked at the things we were doing wrong there, and ever since then, we've been able to string some good halves together," he said. "Now we just need to sustain that and hold on."
The Blue Dukes got out fast against the visiting Highlanders on Jan. 13, taking a 44-35 lead at the break.
They were then able to sustain the advantage through an up-and-down second half.
"It always felt pretty close," Millner said. "It was always something like 6 to 12 points. They can put points in such a hurry with Foster (guard Greg Foster Jr.) and Quinlevan (6-9 post Jack Quinlevan). But I don't think we ever let them get inside of two possessions (on the lead). They'd get a few baskets, and then we'd respond with a few of our own."
The Blue Dukes were led by the entirely unrelated duo of 6-3 sophomore guard Demetrius Johnson and 6-3 senior forward Xavier Johnson. Demetrius had 27 points and Xavier 22.
"Both have good perimeter games, and Xavier has also been doing a good job at back-up point guard for us," Millner said. "Demetrius has also been great at attacking the rim and hitting some unbelievable shots."
Both work well in Millner's "four guards and one big guy" attack. Harry Grams added 12 points, and Cade Garcia 7.
"We're picking up some confidence," Millner said. "We want the kids to stay motivated and keep the tempo."