Just three plays into the second half, it became noticeable that a different Brookfield Central boys basketball team emerged from the locker room than the one that allowed Germantown to have its way offensively in the first half.
After the game was tied at halftime, the Lancers scored 6 quick points to start the second half to grab control and shored up their defense to never relinquish the lead in a 77-66 victory over the Warhawks on Jan. 28 at the Luke Homan Memorial Showcase.
Germantown shot 69.2 percent (18 for 26) in the first half, as the Warhawks got good looks at the basket and knocked them down. Brookfield Central was able to enter the break tied at 38-38 due mostly to sophomore guard Gage Malensek scoring 21 first-half points.
"Germantown deserves a lot of credit," Brookfield Central coach Dan Wandrey said. "They came in here off a tough loss last night and were just torching us at the beginning. We gave them 4-foot shots, and they made them. Their big guys were having their way with us, and they were executing their stuff really well and were taking it to us. It took us a little bit of time to get going.
"We didn't say anything different at halftime strategically that we didn't say for two days in practice or before the game. They took it upon themselves to turn it around. And they did, right off the bat. All of a sudden, the tone was set."
The Lancers forced a contested miss on the first possession of the second half, and Malensek converted on the other end. Cole Nau then stripped Colin Lindwall at midcourt for a fastbreak steal. After Germantown missed a long 3-point attempt, Malensek hit Chris Post for a jumper that put Brookfield Central up 44-38 with 15:46 to play.
Germantown would not get within 5 points the rest of the game, and the Lancers grew their lead to as many as 13 points. Brookfield Central's defense didn't allow many easy looks in the second half, and Germantown went 9 for 22 from the field.
"Coaches just said in the locker room that we knew what we were doing technically, but it was just about every player applying it and buying in," Malensek said. "We talked about all week closing out with hands high, even though we had help in the front. It was just about buying in."
Malensek finished with a career-high 33 points on 13 of 21 shooting. He also dished out five assists and committed just one turnover.
Junior guard Andres Peralta-Werns scored 16 points, senior guard Sam Rohde knocked down three triples to finish with 11 points, Post had 8 points and nine rebounds, and Nau had 7 points and five assists.
"Gage did some really good things," Wandrey said. "In addition to scoring, he made some really nice passes, as well. He makes good decisions. Cole makes really good decisions. Then we have some guys that can make you pay as shooters. Andres did a really nice job picking his spots to go to the rim."
Since falling to Brookfield East on Jan. 13, Brookfield Central has won four straight games over quality opponents in Wisconsin Lutheran, Menomonee Falls, Wauwatosa East and Germantown to move to 14-1 overall.
"We just needed a little wake-up call that it is not going to be a blow-by season," Malensek said. "We have to work hard every day in practice and work hard for 36 minutes every game."