As head coach David Beebe and the members of the UW-Waukesha women's basketball team slowly walked off the court for the final time to conclude the 2017-18 season, an exhilarating season of success came to an end.
With a strong core of veteran leadership and promising group of talented, young players, UW-Waukesha continued to grow as a unit throughout the year and re-established itself as one of the premier junior college programs in the state.
The Cougars delivered one of the best seasons in recent program history, finishing second in the Wisconsin Collegiate Conference with a 10-3 record and 16-4 overall - culminating with a trip to the prestigious two-day WCC Final Four at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells for the second time in the last three years.
UW-Waukesha went on to upset two-time defending state champion UW-Marinette 65-48 in the emotional state semifinals before suffering a 98-50 season-ending loss to high-powered, undefeated UW-Marathon in the championship game Feb. 25.
All four of the team's losses came at the hands of upper-tier teams in the WCC this season, including three at the hands of undefeated UW-Marathon and the other to UW-Marinette.
The Cougars began the season by winning eight of their first nine games, highlighted by victories over Fox Valley Tech (84-25), UW-Marshfield (111-30), College of Lake County (64-58), Milwaukee Area Technical College (88-77), UW-Fond du Lac (78-71), UW-Marinette (72-64) and UW-Washington (91-61).
UW-Waukesha, which scored 80 or more points six times, carried the momentum over into the second semester - finishing with a 6-2 record to conclude the regular season.
The Cougars, who clinched the No. 2 seed, sealed a trip to state with a dominant home-court victory over UW-Barron (84-34) in the WCC quarterfinals.
Beebe was proud of the way his young, determined team made steady strides and strived to play championship-caliber basketball each time it stepped on the court.
"We had high expectations coming into the season so to be able to play up to our potential throughout the year and make it back to state really meant a lot," said Beebe, who is 27-11 overall following his second year at the helm. "From day one, it's all been about building a winning culture. There's a difference between good teams and great teams. Good teams hope for success and great teams know how to make it a reality. That said, we fully expect to expect to compete for a championship each year.
"After coming one step away from state last year, it was great to see this group step up to the challenge and make steady progress over the course of the season. It was exciting to be able to honor the program's winning tradition and compete for the title once again. This season will have a lasting impact and provide a lot of motivation heading into next year."
Junior point guard Justice Hawkins from Wauwatosa West, sophomore guard Hannah Bricco from Mukwonago, freshman post player Kailey Kennow from Kenosha Indian Trail and freshman guard Mya Whiters from Ashwaubenon each received all-conference accolades this season.
Hawkins and Bricco provided a dynamic 1-2 scoring punch throughout the season - each earning a first-team berth to lead the Cougars.
Hawkins, who finished her standout three-year career at UW-Waukesha as a three-time first-team WCC selection and the program's all-time leading scorer with 1,016 points, averaged 17.2 points per game with 20 3-pointers, 5.2 rebounds, team-leading 7.5 assists and 3.5 steals.
Bricco, who eclipsed the 40-point mark twice this season, led the team in scoring by averaging 24.4 ppg. with 56 3-pointers, a team-high 73 percent from the free-throw line, 6.8 rpg., 4.1 assists and 2.9 steals.
Kennow and Whiters each honorable mention honors.
Kennow averaged 10.9 ppg., 8.4 rpg. with 1.3 steals, 1.1 assists and 1.0 blocked shots. Whiters added 9.2 ppg. with 37 3-pointers, 4.4 rpg., 4.3 assists and 1.8 steals.
COUGAR FAST FACTS
What: The University of Wisconsin-Waukesha women's basketball team
Final Record: Finished 10-3 in Wisconsin Collegiate Conference (second place), 16-4 overall (The Cougars lost to UW-Marathon 98-50 in a WCC state tournament championship game at JustAgame Fieldhouse in Wisconsin Dells on Feb. 25)
Head Coach: David Beebe, second season (27-11 overall)
Assistant Coaches: Mallory Kleczka, Kenny Bosch and Jose Gonzales
Team Members: Junior point guard Juctice Hawkins from Wauwatosa West, junior post player Kelli Alvine from Franklin, sophomore guard Hannah Bricco from Mukwonago, freshman guard Mya Whiters from Ashwaubenon, freshman post Tavariana White from Milwaukee Lutheran, freshman guard Bri Jashinsky from Sussex Hamilton, freshman post Ariel Gonzales from Milwaukee Lutheran and freshman post Kailey Kennow from Kenosha Indian Trail