Big third quarter sparks Tosa East boys basketball team's first victory of year
Wheeler, two sophomores sparks win over Destiny
You couldn't blame Wauwatosa East boys basketball coach Tim Arndorfer for holding his breath on the final shot of the game against Destiny on Saturday in the Wisconsin Basketball Yearbook Shootout at Concordia University.
Leading, 53-51, Destiny senior guard Dominique Patterson put up a wide open 3-point shot with a second left in the game. When the ball banged off the rim, the Red Raiders got the rebound and their first win of the year.
"Honestly, the way things are going, your mind fast forwards a little bit and you picture it going in," an emotionally-drained Arndorfer said. "When it clanged off and was in our hands it was a really good feeling. We can go into the new year with hopefully something to build on."
After leading 13-10, the Red Raiders saw Destiny go on a 20-5 tear in the second quarter, starting with a 10-0 run. Kamari Hudson scored six points and Elijah Jones scored five to spark the rally and a 30-18 lead.
"We were playing uninspired basketball, especially in the second quarter," Arndorfer said. "We were playing timid, scared, always on our heels.
"That's not exactly the way we said it at halftime. We just needed to play with more aggression and confidence. And I think that came out in the third quarter."
Sophomore guard Bryce Beekman, who had an outstanding second half, talked about the halftime speech.
"(Coach) wanted us to play within ourselves — not be scared," Beekman said. "(He wanted us) to play together as a team and not be for ourselves."
The Red Raiders opened the second half with runs of 8-0 and 16-2.
Sophomore guard Sam Christiansen hit a free throw, senior Nick Pridgeon stole the ball and scored and senior Christian Tolbert hit a free throw. Christiansen then closed out the 8-0 run with a jumper and a layup off a steal to cut the deficit to 30-26.
On his own run
After a basket by Destiny, senior Sean Wheeler scored eight straight points for a 34-32 lead.
First, he nailed a long 3-pointer, then drove in for a layup, was fouled and converted the 3-point play by sinking a free throw. Beekman then drilled a perfect pass to Wheeler, who scored off a fast break.
Jones sank two free throws to tie the game with 2:22 left in the third quarter, but then Beekman passed to Tolbert for an easy basket, followed with a steal and a basket and then passed to Pridgeon for a layup and a 40-34 lead with 49.8 seconds left in the quarter.
Destiny put in a rebound basket and Christiansen countered with a steal and a basket with 4.5 seconds left in the quarter for a 42-36 lead.
When the dust settled, East outscored Destiny, 24-6 in the third quarter. The run was sparked by eight points from Wheeler, seven from Christiansen and a great floor game from Beekman.
Tosa East then extended the lead to 50-40 early in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles then finished the game with an 11-3 run, as Cal Rohde scored off another beautiful pass from Beekman and Wheeler sank a free throw with 9.9 seconds left to set up the first win.
"It's like a light switch went on, I don't know how to explain it," Arndorfer said of the explosive third quarter. "It's the nature of the beast. With a young team, with an inexperienced team, you are going to get a lot of highs, a lot of lows. We have definitely experienced both. But we have to start limiting how low we get. I was really proud with the way they fought back.
"It's a step in the right direction. The monkey is off our back."
Wheeler, who managed only 16 points in the three previous games, scored 20 to get back on track.
"He needs to stay consistent," Arndorfer said. "He has been the one guy — the last couple of games he hasn't been able to find his rhythm — so for him to put up the numbers today was huge."
He also praised his sophomore guard duo.
"Bryce I thought especially played with tremendous poise," Arndorfer said. "Defensively, he gave an unbelievable effort and had a great floor game. Right now that's his role. He has to try and get other guys involved. Maybe his defense turns into his offense.
"Sam's coming along. It's the same thing with him, his confidence, it's more mental than his basketball ability on the floor. That's encouraging to have two guards as sophomores playing the way they did today."
Blown out early
East lost to Whitefish Bay, 71-44, on Dec. 26, to open the WBY Shootout.
East is now 1-6 and hosts Kenosha Tremper (4-4) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in another non-conference game.
East got off to a terrible start against Whitefish Bay (8-3), as the Blue Dukes outscored them, 20-2, in the first period and it was all downhill from there.
East's Christiansen scored 14 and Tolbert managed eight as nine Red Raiders got on the board.
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