The Wauwatosa West girls wanted to send a message to the visiting Greenfield Hustlin' Hawks on Tuesday. And just to make sure they heard it loud and clear, they sent it not once, but twice.
The Trojans (1-2 overall, 1-1 in Woodland Conference) got off to a fast start and blew away the Hustlin' Hawks, 58-42, at home and they did it twice.
First of all, they opened the game with a 17-0 run in the first quarter. Leading 26-16 at intermission, they then went on a 14-0 run in the third quarter, taking a 40-25 lead into the final period.
"We tell our kids the first three minutes of both halves are so important," said Tosa West coach Ron Gavinski, won one his first game as a head coach. "They cut the lead from 17 to 10 at half, so I told them we have to go out and finish it. The starters then went out, got after people and we got some easy play."
Latasha Harmon had 14 points, Paige Soles 12, Elise Ditscheit 11 and Jessica Pike nine to lead the Trojans.
"Our energy was outstanding," Gavinski said. "Our first team played really well defensively … and we converted."
Soles (eight points), Harmon (five) and Pike (four) sparked the 19-2 first-quarter run and Harmon had six points while Ditscheit and Jenna Engel added three each in the 14-9 third period.
One big negative was the free-throw line. The Trojans got there 33 times, but only converted 14, a .424 percentage.
Like last season, the Trojans are again struggling from both the field and the free-throw line.
"We can't put the ball in the hole consistently enough," Gavinski said. "We need some more time to work on it."
Optimism and improvements
The Trojans had lost their first two games of the season by 13 points each, but Gavinski was optimistic about the upcoming season and at least on Tuesday, he was proven right.
After losing to Waukesha North, 48-35, on Nov. 29 to begin the season, the Trojans dropped a 50-37 decision at South Milwaukee on Friday in the West Allis Central opener.
"There is a lot going on," Gavinski said. "We are doing well. The kids are learning. I told them there are great losses, good losses and bad losses. South Milwaukee was a great loss."
Tosa West had a bad first quarter, but battled back to get back into the game at half-time.
The Rockets jumped off to a 12-4 advantage, but a 15-11 second period performance by West cut the lead to 23-19 at halftime. Unfortunately, South Milwaukee was better in a low-scoring third quarter (9-6) and a high-scoring fourth period (18-12).
"I said to the coaching staff on Friday, that South Milwaukee was somewhat of a turning point," Gavinski said. "They were worried. They are supposed to competing with Ike (New Berlin Eisenhower) for the title and we never backed down. We fought the whole game."
Latasha Harmon was the only Tosa West player in double figures with 11 points, while Paige Soles had eight points and Ashley Colebourne had six.
"I think we are going to surprise," Gavinski said. "I think teams don't think we can better than a year ago, but we play harder and people underestimate us."
The Rockets had 13 more free throws (17-of-30) than the Trojans (4-of-15), but were outscored from the field 33-31 points thanks to a trio of three-pointers by Harmon.
"Latasha Harmon has done a complete 180 from last year," Gavinski said. "She is laughing, having fun. She is buying into the program and playing hard."
He also praised Soles for her improved defense, Jenna Engel for her leadership and Ditscheit for her defense and scoring.
Gavinski praised Pike for "doing some many good things offensively and defensively."
"The girls are excited about each other," Gavinski said. "They are buying into the program. They know we can't walk the ball up the court. … Our defense is our best offense."
The Trojans are at Shorewood Friday and then host St. Francis on Tuesday.
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