Oak Creek girls basketball team's impressive winning streak made it a special season
Led by all-state honoree Tamya Sims, Knights went 23-2
The Oak Creek girls basketball season should not be judged by how it began - with a tough loss to Pius XI - or how it ended - a disappointing injury-marred defeat to rival Franklin - but how the rest of the very successful season went.
In between those two defeats, the Knights won an impressive 23 straight games, cruising to a 14-0 Southeast Conference championship, during which their only serious challenges came from Franklin.
"I liked this season, I liked it a lot," coach Steve Hluchnik said. "Someone asked Buzz Williams (Marquette University men's coach) a question: What's better, a conference title or a long tournament run?
"I would have liked a deeper run in the (WIAA) tourney, but you can't take away the meaning of 23 straight victories, an undefeated conference season and where we had a scoring average in the 60s and a defensive average in the 30s."
And he won't. In the future, he will in small moments look back ruefully on the painful wrist and thumb injury that point guard Morgan Kokta suffered early in the fourth quarter of the sectional semifinal loss to Franklin and ask "What if?"
But he said he'll try not to do that a great deal, because there was so much more to look back on, including a championship in the Sheboygan South Holiday Invitational and an early win over eventual Division 1 state champion Milwaukee Riverside (which the Knights would have had a rematch with in the sectional final had they beaten Franklin).
The Knights, behind a tall, athletic line-up and an aggressive defensive posture, were indeed dominant for long runs during the season. They averaged 60.3 points per game and allowed just 34.0. They were rewarded with three first-team all-Southeast Conference selections including 6-2 junior forward and player of the year Tamya Sims. She averaged 15 points per game on 66 percent shooting from the field with 145 rebounds, 48 steals, 44 blocked shots and 30 assists.
She was just named to the Division 1 all-state first-team by the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association.
Sims was helped on the front-line by a fellow 6-2 junior forward Stephanie Kostowicz, who also earned first-team all-league honors after averaging 14.6 ppg., (63 percent shooting) with team-highs in rebounds (151) and blocked shots (45). Kostowicz was honorable mention all-state.
The senior Kokta was also a first-team all-conference selection after averaging 7.6 ppg., with a team high of 91 assists and 49 steals as well as 39 three-pointers.
"She was the one person we could not afford to lose," Hluchnik said.
Junior guard Katie Finn earned second-team all-league honors after averaging 8.4 ppg., with a team high 43 three-pointers and three-point percentage (43). Sophomore guard Hannah Settingsgaard was honorable mention all-league after averaging 6.3 ppg. and posting 42 steals.
With the co-captain Kokta graduating along with Sarah Finn, and co-captain Sam Erdman, Hluchnik said the main concern is finding a point guard for next year, because there will be a sense of urgency and a window of opportunity as the Knights will return six of their top seven scorers.
"The question is, who will step up?" Hluchnik said. "We will find one. It's just a matter of who wants to step in. We have a large and successful program. Someone will emerge."
The freshman team lost only two games and the junior varsity only three.
But before looking ahead, Hluchnik wanted to congratulate this year's team one more time.
"I've been working in basketball, baseball and football for a long time, but this was more of a team than any squad I can remember," he said. "The interactions with the kids were great. We didn't have a single issue all year. Just great to work with."
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