The Falcons are soaring through some unprecedented airspace these days.
The Sheboygan Falls girls basketball team — which of late has become something of a perennial contender for the Eastern Wisconsin Conference crown, but has never seen a season so polished as this — is poised to accomplish something it hasn’t done in its 10 years under coach Leroy Hamilton.
A win tonight against Kewaskum, an achievement well within Falls’ grasp, would wrap up an undefeated 14-0 conference record, marking the Falcons’ best season under their veteran coach. Hamilton said it may even be the first time in program history the team has gone undefeated in conference play.
“I think we’re accustomed to winning,” he said on Wednesday. “They’re accustomed to putting in the hard work, and they like being on top. And that’s what we try to instill in them.”
The Falcons beat Kewaskum 67-50 in the teams’ first matchup earlier this season, making Falls at least the on-paper favorite to win tonight.
This year’s marquee season seems a fitting tribute to a coach and a program that’s undergone a serious transformation in the last decade.
Ten years ago, the Falcons were at the bottom of the EWC; at the end of the 2002-03 campaign, Falls’ season-ending record stood at 4-16 overall, and 2-12 in the conference.
But the team — helped along, Hamilton said, by a dedicated youth program that’s shaped solid incoming freshman players for years — slowly moved its way up the league ladder. By 2007, the team was finishing above the .500 mark in the conference; by ’08, the Falcons had clinched a share of the EWC title.
Since then, the Falcons have remained one of the top teams in the EWC each year. They won the conference crown outright in 2010, and finished runner-up in 2009 and ’11.
“I’ve been lucky enough to help with that, and the girls have bought into what we’re trying to do,” Hamilton said.
“I put a lot of heart and soul into the way I coach and the way I prepare these girls.”