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WIAA state girls notebook: 'War on the Shore' rivalry got Storm ready for state

Mar. 15, 2013
 
All three Green Bay teams advance to WIAA state fi...
All three Green Bay teams advance to WIAA state fi...: Press-Gazette reporters Wes Hodkiewicz and Andrew Pekarek discuss the second day of the WIAA state girls basketball tournament, which saw Kewaunee and Green Bay Notre Dame join Algoma in Saturday's championships.

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ASHWAUBENON — Lynn Geier isn’t interested in a rubber match with the Algoma girls basketball team.

However, there’s no question in the Kewaunee girls basketball coach’s mind her team’s pair of Packerland Conference games against their shoreline rival this season readied the Storm for this moment.

With Algoma already destined for Saturday’s WIAA Division 4 state championship game, Kewaunee punched its ticket to the D3 final with a 40-27 win over Lodi on Friday morning.

This past season, Kewaunee and Algoma split their series — dubbed “The War on The Shore” — before sharing the Packerland Conference championship en route to this week’s state tournament at the Resch Center.

The Wolves (25-2), who defeated Cuba City 62-39 in a D4 semifinal Thursday, handed the Storm (26-1) its only loss this season, 49-46 on Dec. 13 in Algoma. It was Kewaunee's only blemish as the Storm has reeled off 22 consecutive victories over the last three months.

The Storm will defend its D3 state title against East Troy on Saturday. If Kewaunee is successful, it’ll know who to thank.

“Our Packerland Conference is so strong and they make us so much better,” Storm senior Kelsey Stangel said. “I love playing them, and I know the rest of the team does, too. They prepare us for the long run. This is where we want to be, and they helped us get this far.”

The mutual respect between the teams was evident in how Kewaunee drove to Green Bay on Thursday night to watch the first half of Algoma’s state semifinal before leaving at halftime to rest for its 9 a.m. tipoff on Friday, for which the Wolves also rose early.

Two years ago, the teams advanced to their respective state title games, but both finished as runners-up with rosters comprised of many of their same players today.

While Kewaunee captured the D3 state title last season, Algoma’s season ended in the sectional semifinals after a knee injury ended point guard Taylor Schmidt’s season.

Now, both have a chance to walk away with gold balls after battling each other so fiercely over the past four years.

“We’re just glad Algoma is in another division for the tournament,” joked Geier.

Under pressure

For the third consecutive year, Kewaunee has assured itself state hardware.

It’s a run Geier couldn’t have imagined when she returned to the program five years ago for her second stint as head coach.

A mother of two daughters, that success has come with sacrifice. Geier split her time this season between coaching the Storm to 26 victories and helping coach her youngest daughter, Brooke, during her eighth-grade basketball season.

A manager by trade at Quali T Screening in Luxemburg, it’s effort both of her daughters appreciate.

“There was a lot of pressure put on her this year again, but she’s used to it from last year and the year before with our state runs,” said Nicole Geier, Lynn’s oldest daughter who played on last year’s state-championship team.

“She definitely has very good time-management skills. She’ll go from place to place and she knows exactly what to do with her schedule. I remember before the regional final game this year, she was actually at one of Brooke’s tournaments to be there for half her game just to support her — the same day.

“She just balances everything out. She’s always on her computer at night. She never gets a break, but that’s why she’s so successful because she never stops going.”

Early wake-up call

With the state tournament being held at the Resch Center for the first time, the Storm decided to stay at home, 45 minutes away.

After watching Algoma in the first half of its semifinal Thursday, the team returned to Kewaunee at 8:15 p.m. with Geier setting an 8:30 p.m. bedtime curfew to make sure her team got enough rest for its 9 a.m. tipoff.

The team arrived at the high school at 6:45 a.m. Friday for the bus ride to the Resch.

Although a few coaches cut it close, everyone made it in time.

“I told them, ‘The bus is leaving at 6:45 a.m. If you’re not there, we’re leaving you behind,” said Geier with a laugh. “We almost left a few coaches behind, but it was pretty simple — get to bed if this means anything to you — and we were preaching that all week already. I was preaching it all week to catch up on your sleep now. You know we have a morning game. I was preaching to the parents to make sure you get them up early enough and feed them a good breakfast.”

— Andrew Pekarek contributed to this report

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