Certainly there were issues for the North Shore Conference-leading Nicolet girls basketball team Friday night against Grafton.
There were the 21 turnovers, there was also the dubious shot selection in the fourth quarter (two of 15 from the field) and there was also the occasional lapse in judgment that sent a pass flying directly into traffic or into the stands.
"Things like that give us something to improve upon and something to work on in practice," said Knight coach Corey Wolf. "The purpose is always the same, how do we continue to improve from game-to-game?"
And that little object lesson was after a 61-34 rout of the defending state division 2 champion Blackhawks during which the Knights (10-0 in league play and 15-1 overall) looked almost sublime in their execution. They have now won 14 games in row.
Take for instance the 22-6 first quarter outburst that ended the drama before it started. The Knights hit eight field goals in the session, including three-pointers from Gabby Bronson (12 points) and Brittney Fair (8). They forced nine turnovers out of the solid Blackhawks (5-5, 9-6) often turning them into breathtaking fastbreak opportunities led by guard Courtney Smith.
They also threw the ball into the post to virtually unstoppable small forward Ashley Green (25 on the night including 20 in the first half) or simply let her create at the end of the drive (including an old-fashioned three-point play). They also outrebounded the large and physical Blackhawk squad seven to two in the session.
Green entered the game as the leading scorer in the NOW Newspapers suburban area (17-plus points per game).
"It feels great when we come out executing like that," said Bronson. "Really awesome. It feels like all our hard work is paying off and that we're really living up to our potential."
One thing the defending co-league champion Knights are also doing is not looking too far into the future as Nicolet maintained a two-game lead over Germantown (8-2, 13-3). The Warhawks stayed in touch by defeating Milwaukee Lutheran Friday night.
"We have not talked about running the table (going 14-0 in conference) or anything like that," Wolf said. "...Every game provides us with a different challenge. Like Grafton, which is always a great defensive team. We wanted to come out and match their defensive intensity and we wanted to prove that we could score against a defense of that caliber."
And her players believe in that concept too.
"Every game we want to come out strong," said Green. "We don't want to play to another team's level. When we come out strong like we did, it really gives us a lot of confidence. It doesn't matter who we play. We just want to play hard each game."
That much was evident Friday night, as the lead went up to 20 at the half and reached 30 in the third quarter (during which Green, Fair, Alex Cohen and Bronson all hit three-pointers) before Wolf substituted liberally. The Knights would hit an impressive eight three-pointers in the game.
But then again, there's always something new to work on.
"We never take anything for granted," said Green. "We always work hard in practice, because anything can happen."
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