Wauwatosa East boys basketball team nips Marquette in overtime
Sophomores lead balanced Red Raider attack
After beating rival Marquette University High School on Friday, 60-56, in overtime, the Wauwatosa East boys basketball team has a chance to do something it hasn't done since the 2007-08 season.
Sweep the Hilltoppers.
The Red Raiders split the series the past three seasons (1-1), after the Hilltoppers won the series in 2009-10 (0-2) and 2008-09 (2-1), although East beat them in the final game in the playoffs.
"I was really happy for our seniors," coach Tim Arndorfer said. "This year has been difficult for them, but beating Marquette is something every Red Raider looks forward to. It was a really big win for us. Rivalry games tend to bring out the emotion and passion in players, regardless of their records.
"For the first time all year, it felt like we had a consistent intensity level characteristic of a varsity basketball team. You hope that this is the kind of game that can jumpstart some kind of a turnaround for us."
The Red Raiders have now won two of three games to improve to 2-7 overall and 1-3 in the Greater Metro Conference. MUHS fell to 5-5, 2-2 in conference play.
Tosa East travels to a good West Allis Central team (8-2, 3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Bulldogs are led by two talented players in Brandon Key (16.7 points per game) and Ron Turkvan (16.6 ppg., four rebounds).
Central has won two straight going into the week and seven of its last eight games under coach Dave Mlachnik.
The Red Raiders also host Waunakee (0-8) at 2:45 p.m. Saturday in a non-conference game.
Only six players scored for the Red Raiders in the win over Marquette, but four were in double figures, including two talented sophomores.
Sam Christiansen and Bryce Beekman each led the way with 15 points. Christiansen had a 3-pointer and was 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Beekman had only two baskets, but he converted 11-of-17 from the free throw line.
"Our young guards continue to grow up as the season progresses," Arndorfer said. "Sam and Bryce made some really big plays throughout the game on both ends of the floor. It was really nice to see the way they handled themselves down the stretch."
Senior Sean Wheeler, who tops the team with an 11.3 points per game average, was next with 14 points. He had a 3-pointer and was 9-of-14 from the free throw line.
"We finally got some decent balance in the scoring column with several guys in double figures," Arndorfer said. "We've been waiting all year for that to happen."
Junior Drue Holley added 10 points with two 3's and was 2-of-6 from the free throw line.
Seniors Nick Pridgeon (four points) and Caleb Taylor (two) rounded out the scoring.
"I thought Drue Holley played an exceptional game in his first starting role," Arndorfer said. "He had some really big baskets that allowed us to keep the lead or tie the game down the stretch. His free throws iced the win in overtime.
"Sean Wheeler, Nick Pridgeon and Caleb Taylor really gave us some great minutes."
Tosa East doubled up MUHS (18-9) in the first quarter, but then the Hilltoppers bounced back. They had a 17-13 second quarter edge to cut the lead to 31-26 at intermission.
Defense a positive
Marquette came out and tied the game at 40-40 by putting together a 14-9 third quarter. Defense then took over and both teams played to an 8-8 tie to force an overtime. Tosa East edged Marquette in overtime, 12-8.
Arndorfer was happy with his team's defense.
"As a whole, I really thought our defensive effort was pretty solid, and short of a small drought in the second quarter, our offense was good enough to maintain the lead throughout most of the game," he said.
But not everything was perfect for the Red Raiders.
"Turnovers on our end probably made the game closer than it should have been," Arndorfer said. "If we take better care of the ball, especially in clutch situations, we probably win the game in regulation. Instead, we needed the extra period to finish the job."
Tosa East was 28-of-43 from the free throw line, while MUHS was 16-of-26.
"I believe we shot 40 some free throws, which was really a key to the game," Arndorfer said. "In the past, we have been a team that really settles for jump shots. Against Marquette, I thought we had a more aggressive mind-set."
But Arndorfer realizes the Red Raiders still have to improve their game.
"As big a win as it is for us, we still have a lot of work to do," he said. "There were a lot of positives, but the tape and the stats will tell us that we can continue to improve in several areas.
"We think the schedule allows for us to make a little run here.
"Hopefully, the level of intensity is something that carries over into our next few games."
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