The Martin Luther girls basketball has been virtually unstoppable this season through a stifling defense featuring some of the best athletes in the southeast shutting down high-octane offenses. The Spartans put on another defensive clinic Thursday night at New Berlin Eisenhower and easily defeated Brookfield Academy, 50-32, to advance to the WIAA sectional final.
“No matter who we put on the floor, we can guard anybody,” Martin Luther coach Corey Scheel said. “They couldn’t put a run together because of the way we could stop them defensively.”
The Spartans (24-1) focused their defensive efforts on Brookfield Academy junior Theresa Wichser, the Blue Knights’ (17-8) long-range threat who entered the game with 122 three-pointers on the season. She would end with that total unchanged as Martin Luther held her to just one field-goal attempt for the game and 2 points from the free-throw line.
“Having that type of athleticism, we can bump off and switch off and anybody can guard (Wichser),” Scheel said. “When a girl coming into game has 122 threes on the year, that’s pretty special. And to hold her to 2 points on two free throws is pretty dang special.”
Martin Luther sophomore Bonnie Jensen – a 5-10 juggernaut compared to Wichser at 5-4 – was charged with keeping the sharpshooter in check for most of the game. Using her wingspan and athleticism, Jensen kept the ball out of Wichser’s hands and forced her to put it on the floor when the Blue Knights managed to find a way to get it to their leading scorer.
“Bonnie’s kind of my defensive stopper,” Scheel said. “She’s got the grit and the toughness like no one is going to beat her. That’s the competitive nature that my girls have, but with Bonnie, there’s the attack mentality.”
Jensen also was the Spartans leading scorer, contributing 8 of her 10 points in a stifling first half that put Brookfield Academy out of reach from the get-go. The Blue Knights’ only lead was at 7-6, just 4 minutes, 23 seconds into the first half. From there, the Spartans outscored Brookfield Academy, 25-8, to close out the half, sparked by three consecutive steals by senior guard Bailey Zazueta.
Entering the second half with a 16-point deficit, Brookfield Academy couldn’t make a sustained run to pose a serious threat, but the Blue Knights did have their opportunities. Martin Luther played keep-away to run out the clock, but some miscues and loose whistles put Brookfield Academy on the line for 16 attempts. The Blue Knights, who won their first regional title Saturday, converted only 11 of those shots, which proved to be too little too late against their physically dominant foe.
“They’re quick and they’re athletic and they stole the ball away from us five or six times because we weren’t strong enough with the ball,” Brookfield Academy coach Ron Kluth said. “But I’m proud of this season. This is as far as Brookfield Academy has gone in the last 20 years.”