Tosa East girls basketball team falls short against Wisconsin Lutheran
Scoring drought hurts Red Raiders' chances for semifinal victory
A Wauwatosa East scoring drought allowed Wisconsin Lutheran to capture a 41-34 win in the WIAA Division 2 girls basketball playoffs Friday at Tosa East.
The Red Raiders and Vikings were close through the first two quarters, with Tosa East holding a 18-16 halftime lead. The Red Raiders started the second half well, with a basket apiece from Bailey Berlin, Emily Winter and Katie Salmon, to go up 26-16.
After that, however, it was all Wisco.
Bethany Covington made two free throws, senior forward Caitlin Knueppel hit a 3-pointer, and the Vikings rolled to a 12-0 run that carried them into the fourth quarter and culminated in another three from Knueppel and a 28-26 lead.
"We hit a drought, no doubt about it," East coach Rob Hamill said. "We weren't 100 percent healthy; we had two of our starters who couldn't make it through the day yesterday at practice. We were a little tired; we weren't quite ourselves. I think we were a little drained.
Shots didn't fall
"Wisconsin Lutheran played well enough to win. I thought they executed the things they wanted to in the second half. We said at halftime, the team that's going to be aggressive and the team that's going to be fundamentally sound is going to win the game, and they made some shots and we didn't."
Vikings' head coach Aaron Robinson said his team started shooting better as the game progressed.
"All game long, we were getting looks that we wanted; they just weren't falling," Robinson said. "I think we maybe were a little tight in a playoff game. We knew at halftime, we just said we've just got to keep taking the shots, good shots for us and then hitting them.
"I think that was the difference; that we actually hit the shots that were there for us. We were still getting into the paint, we were kicking out, we were getting good looks from the outside and they started to fall. That was the difference."
Berlin finally ended the Raiders' scoring drought with a basket to tie it at 28, and Tosa East briefly took the lead again with a free-throw from Averie Manke, but Wisco's defense held the Raiders to six points for the remainder of the game.
Keep Salmon out
"The big thing was probably that Katie Salmon stayed more on the perimeter than she had in the first game against us, when she was driving a lot and getting on the foul line," said Robinson. "In the first game, she scored 18 free throws against us.
"Our goal today was to keep her out of the paint as much as we could and our defensive girls, both Elise (DeNoyer) and Caitlin, did that as they played her, moving their feet, and then the help was there. So it was a team defensive effort, which is what we're going for."
Knueppel finished with 20 points, tied for game-high honors with Salmon.
"I'm more of a shooter than I am a driver," Knueppel said. "Yesterday, we did a lot more shooting than we normally do in practice. We got more 3's up because we know they're a good defensive team; they're fast on the inside and they have good help. They did that the last time we played them. So yesterday, I just tried to get as many 3's up, as many free throws up as I could and that helped."
Wisconsin Lutheran improved to 19-4 overall and Tosa East finished with a winning record at 12-11.
"The confidence of erasing the early loss, that's a good thing for us," said Robinson, whose team lost to Tosa East in December, 52-48. "No longer the butterflies of the playoffs. As a first-year head coach, and a younger team, we got the butterflies out in the first game of the playoffs, and really we're playing with house money."
Hamill is optimistic about next season.
"On our roster, we had five 10th graders," he said. "For a good part of the season we were starting three 10th graders. Obviously, Katie's scoring is a big hole to fill, but I think we have the fundamentals in place now.
"Credit to that goes to a lot of people. We've got basketball players with fundamental skills. I think we're on our way up."
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