Senior guards Vince Cupertino and Diamonte "Money" Mckinley shared the Red Raiders' Most Valuable Player honors this week as the Wauwatosa East boys basketball team announced its award winners.
Zak Sylvester, Bryce Kratzer, Riley Poe and Martin Minix round out this year's senior class.
"This seniors group was just a great bunch of kids to work with" coach Tim Arndorfer said, "a couple of them for three (years) in Vince and Money.
"They are a bright group - in the classroom and on the basketball court. They have a passion to win and the work ethic to get there. They left a good model for our other guys to follow."
Junior forward Kyle Vnuk was named the Most Improved Player and the Coaches Award went to Poe and Minix.
The Gary Grzesk Award (for defense) went to Cupertino and Sylvester and the Chris Braier Award for rebounding went to Cupertino.
Mckinley was on the Greater Metro Conference all-conference second team, while Cupertino and Kratzer earned honorable mention honors.
The GMC's senior scholar-athlete awards went to Cupertino, Sylvester, Poe and Minix.
Arndorfer summed up the 2011-12 season, which saw the Red Raiders finish 16-10 overall and place third in the GMC (8-6):
"I think 'roller coaster' is a good word," he said. "We certainly had a terrific start to the year. We were pleased that everyone came together. I was impressed with the way they played. It was nice to hear people say we were a fun team to watch."
Tosa East began the year 6-0 and then won 10 of its first 11 games, losing only to eventual state champion Germantown.
The Red Raiders lost to Brookfield Central on Jan. 13 and proceeded to drop eight of their final 11 regular-season games.
"We got into January and the wheels fell off due to injuries and other things out of our control," Arndorfer said. "I think in the second half we were dealing with a lot of doubt, which is difficult to overcome in athletics."
But the Red Raiders bounced back, winning three straight playoff games over Wauwatosa West, Milwaukee Northwest and Milwaukee Samuel Morse-Marshall-Juneau before losing to Milwaukee Washington. In their final game, they were trailing, 28-9, at halftime but made a run at the Purgolders in the second half, outscoring them 27-22.
"Somehow, they found a way to overcome (the doubt)," Arndorfer said. "They dealt with a lot, but persevered and handled the playoff stretch and were pretty impressive.
"The regional championship is something to be proud of," Arndorfer said. "We didn't want it to end. I thought we showed a lot of character, especially in the second half of the Washington game. That sort of summed up the year. We never quit.
"I'm proud of the way they conducted themselves."
Eight juniors will return for the Red Raiders next season, so Arndorfer should have something to build on.
Returning are guards Nate Moore, Ben Carpenter, Devin Ross, Anthony Carroll and Marquise Carter, and forwards Vnuk, Mitch Dillon and Ben Mihelich.
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