The two longest winning streaks for girls basketball in the state of Wisconsin ended on the Resch Center court on Friday.
Two-time defending WIAA Division 2 state champion New London saw its 68-game winning streak end with a 48-47 loss to New Berlin Eisenhower in the state semifinals only hours after East Troy topped Neillsville 68-56 in a D3 semifinal to end the Warriors’ 54-game streak.
Kewaunee now assumes control of the state’s longest active streak at 22 games dating back to Dec. 13, 2012. The Storm will put that honor on the line when it squares off with East Troy for the D3 state championship on Saturday.
The Bulldogs' streak differed from Neillsville in that it spanned two different head coaches after Troy Krause stepped down after guiding New London to back-to-back D2 crowns.
During the offseason, the job was awarded to one of Krause's former players, Andrea Flease, who started on the Bulldogs’ first two state-qualifying teams in 2006 and 2007.
The streak came with some pressure, but Flease doesn’t believe it’s what led to the Bulldogs downfall at state.
“I honestly don’t think that streak had anything to do with what happened tonight,” Flease said. “I love that we get credit for how many wins we got in a row, but I can’t put that on the team. They fought for every game that they won and for them saying they have a streak on their shoulders – absolutely not. That’s not why we lost that game tonight. We lost that game because we didn’t make the play when we needed to.”
Neillsville coach John Gaier took a similar approach as Flease after guiding the Warriors to 54 consecutive wins, including last year’s 52-42 win over Oshkosh Lourdes to capture the D4 state championship.
“We never really did talk about the streak,” said Gaier, whose team bumped to D3 this year. “We talked about practicing and what we need to work on that night and playing the next game. But when you look back, the thrill really is the kids you get to spend time with every day, and the streak is just kind of sugar coating on that.”
Milwaukee Riverside has a chance to tie Kewaunee for the longest winning streak when it takes on Superior Friday night’s last D1 semifinal.
-email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @WesHod.