Next year, when she is routinely clicking off 250- to 300-yard drives for the University of Denver womens' golf team, Nicolet's two-time state golf champion Tory Bauman might take a moment and remember the previous winter, specifically Feb. 19.
That was when she and the Knights claimed a share of the North Shore Conference title.
"Everything just paid off," she said after host Nicolet routed Whitefish Bay, 49-24, to tie Grafton for first. "I really couldn't ask for anything more."
With the win, the Knights, who also defeated Germantown, 41-31, Feb. 17, finished 12-2 in league play (14-6 overall) for their first title since 2006 and their 15th overall. They began the WIAA state playoffs with a six-game winning streak.
The night had special meaning for sophomore guard Gaby Bronson, who upheld a family tradition. Her aunts, Lindsay and Corey Bronson, helped Nicolet author five North Shore titles between 1994 and '99.
That is the same Corey (Bronson) Wolf who is currently the Knights' coach.
"We worked hard as a team for a common goal, and we really earned this," Gaby said.
For Wolf, the title all came down to how well the young Knights handled the brutally difficult nonconference schedule she laid at their feet to begin the season. Those games honed Nicolet's edge for a run at the North Shore title.
"They really showed us who we were as a team," Wolf said. "Sure we lost all of them, but in each case we battled back and fought and fought and fought. That showed me that these kids don't quit."
Nicolet never let Bay get into sync, grabbing a 16-4 first-quarter lead. The advantage dropped below double digits only once in the third quarter before Nicolet ended any drama with a 7-0 run.
Alex Cohen had 12 points and Gaby Bronson and Ashley Green 10 apiece for the Knights.
More than two weeks ago, Cedarburg knocked the Highlanders out of the running for the North Shore Conference title with a stunning fourth-quarter rally. So it only seemed fair in Homestead coach Bill Scasny's eyes that his team would turn the tables on the Bulldogs in the regular season closer Feb. 19.
The Highlanders erased an eight-point second-half deficit with a 16-6 fourth-quarter outburst and won, 39-35, to finish 10-4 in the North Shore and 16-4 overall.
"It was just a matter of us doing some executing in the fourth quarter that we didn't have the last time," Scasny said. "We also made some shots too. We were only 3-of-23 from the field in the first half, but we made some big shots in the second half."
The Highlanders hit seven of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter. Ashley Stemmeler hit a 3-pointer to tie the score and Hannah Grimm downed two free throws to put the team ahead for good. Katie McArton also had a bucket and two free throws in the stretch drive.
Stemmeler had 13 points, Grimm 10 and Brynn Darga eight for the Highlanders.
In a 54-45 win over Hamilton on Feb. 17, Stemmeler hit a late 3 to send the game into overtime where Homestead outscored the Chargers, 11-2.
Liz Adler had 17 points, Darga 13 and Grimm and Stemmeler nine apiece for Homestead.
The Blue Dukes ran their winning streak to four with a 40-30 nonconference win over visiting Wauwatosa East on Feb. 17.
But it ended with a 49-24 loss to North Shore Conference co-champion Nicolet two days later and the Blue Dukes finished the regular season at 4-10 in the North Shore and 9-11 overall.
Bay trailed, 16-15, at the break against Wauwatosa East, but broke ahead for good with a 16-6 third-quarter run.
Olivia Hoff continued her recent run of strong performances with 19 points, followed by 15 against Nicolet.
The Falcons (6-10 conference, 9-11 overall) closed out the regular season with a 47-32 loss to host New Berlin West on Friday, Feb. 20.
It was the third defeat in four games for Brown Deer, which also edged visiting Wauwatosa West, 45-44, Feb. 17, when Sidney Nelson hit a layup with 2 seconds left.
In the win, the Falcons rallied from a five-point fourth-quarter. Ariel Kinlow had 16 points while Nelson had 14.
Monique Morris had nine points and Nelson eight against New Berlin West.
- Steven L. Tietz,
Shorewood senior Nora Brennan scored 28 points in two games against the top-two teams in the Woodland Conference North Division.
Brennan hit her average of 10 points per game in a 77-20 road loss to New Berlin Eisenhower on Feb. 17.
She then scored nearly all of the Greyhounds' points in a 77-19 loss to visiting Pewaukee on Feb. 20.
Brennan finished with 18.
- Tom "Sky" Skibosh,
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