Oak Creek girls basketball team makes some early-season statements
Knights record wins over Racine Case, Milwaukee Riverside last week
Oak Creek - Not talking smack, but letting its play speak loudly for it, the Oak Creek girls basketball team earned two important victories last week.
The Knights took down defending Southeast Conference champion Racine Case in a 47-28 decision last Saturday in Racine in the league opener. This came three days after putting another dent in Milwaukee Riverside's armor, 48-47.
"This feels good," said Oak Creek coach Steve Hluchnik after the win over Case. "It was good to get them. It was a very sloppy first half and we just pulled away in the second half. They're not what they used to be (in the last few seasons) but they're still Case with lots of in-your-face pressure defense."
The Knights, 3-1 on the season, visit Racine Park in another SEC game on Friday before visiting archrival Franklin (1-1) Dec. 11.
"This'll be a nice week to get ready and expand our playbook a little more," said Hluchnik, who noted point guard Morgan Kokta is off to a very nice start to her senior season. "She knows what I want and gets it done right."
Cruising past Case
The Knights hit Case with a 15-5 first quarter lead and never looked back in earning the victory. Too many first-half turnovers (14) prevented Oak Creek from greatly expanding its advantage in the second quarter (23-10 at the half), but the Knights were never seriously threatened.
"I gave them a couple of stern words at halftime," Hluchnik said with a laugh. "And we were able to cut down the turnovers to four in the second half."
Hluchnik was also pleased with the defense as the Knights were able to mix in 1-3-1 and 3-2 zones with some man to keep them off-balance.
Sophomore guard Hannah Settingsgaard hit four three-pointers for Oak Creek en route to 16 points, while junior posts Stephanie Kostowicz (13) and Tamya Sims (10) also broke into double digits.
Big non-conference win
The game with Riverside, the state's preseason No. 1-ranked team, was a wild, back-and-forth affair as the Tigers went up 13-9 after the first quarter only to have the Knights surge back to grab a 24-19 advantage at the break. Oak Creek still clung to a 35-34 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The finish was messy and chaotic, said Hluchnik, as he noted Kostowicz hit a big three-pointer with just two minutes to go to put Oak Creek up by four.
"They missed and then we delayed for awhile but then we threw it away," he said. "They got a lay-up to cut it to two. We turn it over and get a technical foul when we slammed the ball too hard to the floor.
"They made one of two free throws to cut it to one. They then take the ball out (off the technical) and they play for one shot. We make a steal with about four seconds left and they immediately foul us. But then we miss the front end (of the bonus) and one of their girls throws up a three-quarters court shot that was scary close.
"It bounced off the back rim."
Hluchnik was very pleased with the win, especially in the fact that the team made some big plays down the stretch when they needed them.
"Which is something we didn't do against Pius (in the season opener)," he said. "This time we were able to get some things done offensively and defensively.
"No question, this was a monster win for us."
Kostowicz led the way with 19 points, including 6 for 6 at the free-throw line. Sims had 10, including 8 for 10 from the line. Katie Finn contributed nine while Kokta had eight.
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