The streak was in jeopardy, and Lexi Weitzer knew it.
"We were down by two games with three games left in the season," the Waukesha South graduate said. "I thought we dropped the ball, honestly. I was talking to my parents, saying, 'This is the end of the streak.' Not to be totally negative, but it was kind of a hard moment."
The streak in question was almost as old Weitzer herself, a run of 18 straight years with at least a share of the conference title for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay women's basketball team. But Wright State dropped back-to-back games prior to closing the season with a victory against UW-Milwaukee, and the Phoenix won out to share the crown in the Horizon League. It was the 19th straight year achieving the title banner.
Throw in three wins in the Horizon League Tournament, and the Phoenix went back to the NCAA Tournament for the 17th time in school history and third straight year. Weitzer has started on all three teams.
"Everything just kind of fell together, and it was one of those moments where I felt it was meant to be," Weitzer said. "But it wasn’t a cake walk."
UWGB fell in the first round of the Big Dance to Purdue and closed the year at 27-6. It marked the end for the senior Weitzer, who started 31 of 33 games and scored 3.2 points with 2.2 rebounds per contest in her final season.
"Definitely energy and defense," Weitzer said when asked what she brought to the table. "(Coaches have said at practice), 'Lexi, how often do you score? You’re on the team for a reason. You start and you bring something to the table; it might be your energy, your excitement, your tenacity, your fight. It's not always something that shows up on the stat line, but definitely it's the energy and the boost that we need sometimes when things aren’t quite going your way.'"
Weitzer will attend Texas State University for grad school next year, moving to the San Antonio area where her brother, Adam, currently resides.
"The warmer the better," she said with a laugh.
She leaves behind a program that may be represented by a mythological bird rising from the ashes, but it has been anything but a plucky underdog.
"You look at other teams," Weitzer said, "and they have goals like, 'We want to have a winning season, we want to have 20-plus wins.' Our goal even as my freshman year coming in, our coach said it was to be the best mid-major program in the nation, and that’s always kind of stuck with me. We don’t want to just compete and win games, we just want to be the best what we can do. It adds an element of, 'You’re here for something,' not just winning a game. We work every day and put in so much work every day; it’s just a little bit more pressure and excitement."
The roster was composed entirely of Wisconsinites in 2016-17 and has always relied heavily on in-state talent. Weitzer said she'll miss the camaraderie built with those teammates.
"We have our Christmas party every year, and this year was extra fun," Weitzer said. "We had a PJ party – we’re kind of all dorks – and had a potluck dinner with tacos. It’s really the little things that."
The 6-3 post enjoyed a rapid evolution during her days at South, emerging as a senior to merit first-team All Conference in the Classic 8 after making the honorable-mention list the year before.
"The No. 1 (difference between high school and college) is the speed of the game," Weitzer said. "High school, you bring up the ball and think, 'Hey we’re winning by 10, let’s stall for five minutes.' In college, If there’s a loose ball, you dive on it. You lay your body out for it. If someone is transitioning and gets 10 feet ahead of you, you better chase them down and try to get a tip on their layup. Every drill is 100 percent, either that’s 100 percent communicating, doing your best, sprinting, it’s always 100 percent. That’s where we get our conditioning."