The record will show that Brookfield Central finished tied for second in the Greater Metro Conference with Divine Savior Holy Angels, posting a 10-4 league record and finishing 14-8 overall in the regular season. But a serious case can be made that the Lancers are the class of the conference.
Fully healthy and winners of nine of the last 10, Central closed the regular season with a convincing 51-32 win over Brookfield East on Feb. 17, forcing 22 turnovers in the process. After early season injuries and illness threw the Lancers for a loop, they’ll head into the postseason as an extremely dangerous team.
“With the way our season started, being able to come out of our conference and regular season, taking second in conference, it’s not bad,” Central coach Mallory Liebl said. “We’re proud of that. It took us a while to adjust, obviously, this season, but we’ve now beaten every team in our conference. We know that’s just the first part of the season, and now we have to keep getting better for the playoffs.”
Freshman Anna Mortag scored 12 points to continue her eye-opening rookie campaign, and Caroline Busch added 10 points to move within 9 points of the school’s all-time scoring record, held by 1997 graduate Kelly Svetz (1,219).
“It’s not something we’re looking at and adding up, but we’re aware of it,” Liebl said. “It’s very impressive. If you look at the careers that girls in this program have had, Brookfield Central has had tremendous success, so for her to do that speaks volumes about her career and the player she is.”
Central scored the game’s first 7 points — Mortag had five of them – but East was within 11-9 when the Lancers went on a 15-0 run before taking a 26-12 lead into the break. When Mortag hit the second of consecutive baskets in an 11-0 run early in the second half, making it 35-18 at the time with a 3-pointer, Central already had enough points to win the game.
“Now that I’m scoring more and working better with the team, I’m a lot more confident,” the 6-0 freshman Mortag said. “I’m shooting more and defensively, getting more steals and knowing when to score and when to pass. We’re on a roll a little bit.”
Said Liebl, “She’s not playing like a freshman, and she’s obviously very talented. She’s becoming more confident and comfortable with her role, with the way our team plays and her teammates. I’ve made this comment before, but her talent is just going to take her really far. She’s been a really big piece of our success, but she can do it on both ends. She’s just a presence even if she’s not dominating in scoring, just having her out there is huge for us.”
Molly DeValkenaere scored 11 points to lead East, coming off the bench as coach Michael Goodman experimented with line-change style substitutions for the second game this season. East was never closer than 13 points in the second half, and the Spartans remain one of the area’s most intriguing enigmas heading into the postseason.
“(Our record of) 11-11 speaks for itself,” Goodman said. “You beat New Berlin West and Oak Creek and Kimberly and DS, and then you lose to Catholic Memorial and get blown out by 19 (tonight). Sometimes, I don’t know which team is going to show up.
“They outhustled us tonight,” Goodman added. “A lot of times, Caroline Busch was at the 3-point line and she’s getting the offensive rebound. We were just a little slow and reactionary.”