Red Hawk fortunes turned when team parts blended, seniors say
MILTON Winning and losing are generally defined by one simple trait—talent.
A little luck and hard work helps the process, but the majority of time, the more talented team or athlete finds a way to win.
Yet for Milton High’s girls basketball team, nothing was more important in turning an empty season around than another often-used sports term—chemistry.
The Red Hawks were grounded early in the season trying to find themselves. Players kept to their own little groups, coaches scrambled to get everyone on the same page and what should’ve been a fun season for a talented senior class was imploding.
Fortunately for all those involved, the crisis was averted. The team found itself thanks to the leadership of the 10 seniors on the team.
Milton finished the regular-season strong and turned it up a notch in the postseason. The Red Hawks (19-7) play Green Bay Notre Dame (20-6) in a WIAA Division 2 state semifinal game at 1:35 p.m. Friday at the Resch Center in Green Bay.
“We turned over a new leaf,” starting guard Bree Davis said. “For whatever reason, our chemistry was not very good when the season started.
“But we knew what we were capable of as a team, and knew we didn’t want it to end the way it was going.”
Davis is one of four seniors starters along with Stephanie Stair, Liz Westrick and Morgan Blumer.
Westrick said the lack of confidence and leadership the team showed early on was not reflective of the type of atmosphere that generally surrounded the team.
“I’m not really sure what happened,” Westrick said. “It’s not like we’re not all friends on and off the court. We do everything together, but for some reason, things weren’t going well for awhile.”
The confidence returned when everyone on the team accepted their roles—whether it was as a starter, a back-up player or as a teammate waiting for their turn on the bench that may or may not have come.
Blumer is the catalyst behind the team, but the Red Hawks would not be at state for the second time in the last three years without a strong supporting cast.
That was evident in Milton’s impressive 62-51 win over Monona Grove in the sectional title game. The Red Hawks put on a clinic in the first quarter with incredible ball movement, shooting and defense in rolling to a 22-point first quarter and a 13-point lead.
Stair believes the Monona Grove cheerleaders helped set the stage for Milton’s dominating performance last Saturday night.
“We came running out on the court to start warm-ups, and the Monona Grove cheerleaders had t-shirts on that said something about how they were already going to state,” Stair said. “That was a big motivator.
“Everybody on our team knew we were capable of playing the way we did that first quarter. And after losing to Monona Grove by a point the last time we played them, we knew we could beat them.”
There’s plenty of talent on the Red Hawk roster. Chemistry, however, has proven to be the key element.