Whitnall runs past Tosa West boys basketball team in second half
Tough schedule has talented Popes, Pirates coming to town next
The mammoth Woodland Conference matchup on Friday evening between the Wauwatosa West boys basketball team and Brown Deer ended with a convincing 81-63 win for the Falcons.
But the majority of the game was far more competitive than the score indicates.
Tosa West, who played a non-conference game with Hartford on Tuesday, next hosts Pius XI (13-4 overall, 8-2 Woodland Conference) on Friday and Pewaukee (11-5, 8-3) next Tuesday.
The East-leading Falcons (12-5, 7-3) started off by playing a high-pressure defense against West (10-5, 8-4) and held the pressure for the majority of the game. After Brown Deer's Jerry Luckett sank two free-throws to give the Falcons a 23-15 lead in the second quarter, the Trojans got to work.
West's Rashaad Moore hit a three to start the spurt. Brown Deer's Craig Schimenz answered with a three of his own, but Moore hit another three before Steffan Brown made an athletic layup to cut Brown Deer's lead to 26-23.
The Falcons couldn't extend their lead and Moore hit one more three to tie the game at 26. But the Trojans couldn't quite keep pace and went into halftime down 37-33. Despite the deficit, the lead seemed well within reach for West and they seemed to be handling the Falcons' defense.
"I like how we were patient against it at first," Tosa West coach Chad Stelse said. "But at certain times we could have attacked more. The game plan was to beat it with the pass, and then when you have numbers, we've got to finish around the hoop first and then the three-point shots will open up."
Falcons take control
The second half was dominated by Brown Deer and Lewrenzo Byers, as the Falcons outscored the Trojans, 44-30. After West's Zach Veit hit a three to make it 37-36, Byers finished an old fashioned three-point play to extend the Falcons' lead once again and he didn't look back from there. He scored 10 points in the third quarter and helped build a 10-point 58-48 lead going into the fourth quarter.
"It was back and forth," said Falcons' coach Kelly Appleby. "Coming into the fourth quarter we decided that we were going to rotate our defense that we hadn't thrown at them yet. So we went to that and it seemed to confuse them a little bit and we put a little run on them."
Brown Deer outscored the Trojans 23-15 in the fourth quarter, and there was never much hope for a comeback after the Falcons' Zack Baun and Devante Jackson combined for six points to open the quarter and expand the lead to 64-48. Byers added four points in the fourth quarter and finished with 23 in the game to lead all scorers.
Appleby felt his substituting and defensive changes were the difference down the stretch.
"We brought a couple guys off the bench who were fresh," he said, "and just that rotation of the defense with the fresh players, that seemed to blow it open."
Stelse felt the Falcons played in spurts.
"They go in spurts," he said. "They're a talented team, first place on the other side, a top four team in our conference."
Beat the press
"They beat our press. Once we got down we started pressing, they beat it. They're a talented team. They've got guys that can play and then they've got another 6'5" guy off the bench.
"They finish around the hoop. We don't have the length, but our guys battled to the final buzzer as always."
Byers drained all six of his free-throws for 23 total points while Jackson added 20 and Jerry Luckett 18.
"We actually play as a team," Byers said, "so I don't put it all individually on me. I want us all to get the win, everyone to score. We say at practice, 'road to state.' Our goal is to go to state." When asked if he expects his team to win the conference, he simply said, "Yes."
For the Trojans, Blake Harvey led the way with 14, Andre Carroll 12 and Reggie Cason with 11. Moore had three 3's and finished with nine
"We have to keep battling," Stelse said. "Our schedule doesn't get any easier."
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