WHITEWATER – The Whitewater High School girls’ basketball team’s perfect conference record and 14-game winning streak came to an end Thursday night, as it fell to Rock Valley Conference North rival East Troy 78-73.
The Trojans (16-1 overall, 11-1 RVC North) pulled into a first-place tie with Whitewater (15-2, 11-1) after the Whippets won the first meeting by one point in early December, representing the Trojans’ only conference loss.
Ready to redeem itself, East Troy – ranked No. 5 in the latest Division 3 AP girls’ basketball poll – jumped on the Whippets early, using perimeter shooting against Whitewater’s zone defense. The Trojans put 33 points on the board with 11 3-pointers. East Troy’s Rachel Atchison sank six from outside the arc, followed by Breanna Gaspervich who had five.
”You don’t even see college teams shoot that well, so what are you going to do?” Whitewater coach Judy Harms said.
Gaspervich finished as the game’s leading scorer with a season-high 33 points.
Brooke Trewyn scored a game-high 27 points for the Whippets, who are entered Thursday’s game ranked No. 7 in the AP’s Division 2 basketball poll.
East Troy head coach Jeff Brown said Trewyn was a point of emphasis for the team going into the game.
”We tried to switch defenses a lot,” Brown said. “We went man defense to 2-3 zone to 3-2 zone just so (Trewyn) wouldn’t get in a rhythm, but she figures it out. She’s such a good player.”
Whitewater had height over the Trojans, whose tallest player is 5-foot-10, but East Troy brought speed and a shooting game.
”We can’t match their speed, we knew that coming in,” Harms said. “Unfortunately, it got the best of us.”
The Whippets, who were playing their third game in four days and were coming off a convincing win over RVC South-leading Brodhead, shot just 47 percent from the line, making just 11-of-24 charity tosses.
Harms said if a few more free throws would have fallen and if a few calls would have been made differently, it would have changed the whole flow of the game.
East Troy came out strong to start the first half, sinking 7-of-11 total baskets from outside the arc. Brown said he told the team the first four minutes of the game would be “absolutely huge.”
While the Trojans were red hot from long distances, Whitewater made six 3-pointers in the RVC showdown. Trewyn, Sabrina Hookstead and Morgan Harty each made a pair of shots from beyond the arc.
The Whippets utilized their size in the post by getting good looks down low and crashing the boards, but the points East Troy scored on transition plays made it hard for Whitewater to keep up.
Going into the fourth quarter down by 10, Whitewater attempted a comeback, outscoring the Trojans 26-21. Yet the Whippets had no choice but to foul early to stop the clock, giving East Troy 11 fourth-quarter points from free throws alone.
”I’m proud of the girls for fighting back,” Harms said. “We lost our composure a little bit, but we’re going to learn from it and move on.”
Complementing Trewyn were Courtney Samuels and Harty, who scored 12 and 10 points, respectively. Molly Griep chipped in nine for the Whippets.
Whitewater is still in the running for its first conference title in 28 years with four RVC matchups left to go. The Whippets take on Jefferson in a Valentine’s Day special which is a game Harms said the team can’t overlook.
”Our approach is not going to change,” Harms said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time.”
The RVC North contest between the Whippets and host Eagles (8-8, 6-5) begins at 7:15 p.m.