For the players at Wauwatosa West it's one game at a time.
For the head coach at Wauwatosa West it's one day at time.
Both of those objectives were completed Tuesday night on the Trojans home floor.
Head coach Mike Landisch, who was diagnosed with cancer earlier this season, returned to coach his team for the first time since having surgery to remove his kidney and lymph nodes. The Trojans (16-5) didn’t disappoint him, toppling the South Milwaukee Rockets, 67-57, and advancing to the second round of the state tournament. Wauwatosa West plays at Milwaukee Washington at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
The stars for Wauwatosa West were seniors Ray Sterling and Sam Krenzein, who combined for 40 points to lead the Trojans. Landisch, however, was the hero for both teams.
Players from each school participated in adding orange as a third color to the standard uniforms to show support for Landisch. The thought was not lost on the head coach.
"It's been quite overwhelming and it's very touching," Landisch said. “Not only South Milwaukee but every team we play in the Woodland conference has done the same thing. I'm going through a tough time but knowing I have that support behind me pushing me really encourages me to come out here and give the best effort in everything I do, including beating this cancer."
While Landisch held up his end of the deal on the sideline, Sterling and Krenzien shined in the final home game for the seniors.
It took nearly 2 minutes for either squad to score a basket when Krenzien took it upon himself to go the length of the floor for a layup to break the ice.
Sterling followed that up on the next possession with 3-point basket giving the Trojans an early five- point lead.
South Milwaukee answered with a run featuring five points from junior Sam Oliden. The Rockets eventually pulled even in the first quarter on a Oliden 3-pointer to tie the score, 11-11.
Krenzien again set the pace in the second quarter, scoring five points in the first minute.
That spurt was followed by junior Jarvis Ashley drilling a 3-pointer then stealing the inbounds pass and dropping in a layup.
Sterling closed the half scoring the Trojans' last seven points, with a pair of assists coming from Krenzien.
"Sam and Ray are two incredible seniors they really came out and played an excellent game," Landisch said. "They didn't play their best game tonight but they did enough to win and that's all that matters for us to move on."
South Milwaukee didn't go away easily in the second half. After Wauwatosa West pushed the lead to nine, the Rockets went on a 9-1 run to pull within one point of the Trojans with less than 6 minutes to play in the third.
That proved to be the final run for South Milwaukee as it couldn't answer for Sterling down the stretch.
South Milwaukee finishes the season 12-11 overall, with three of those losses coming against Wauwatosa West.
"They beat us three times but I thought we did a better job on defense this time," Rockets head coach John Riggins said. "I'm proud of my seniors. Boo Gaitland stepped up tonight and all of my seniors, I love them a lot, they are good kids and we are going to miss them."
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