The two high school boys basketball teams in Wauwatosa might finally have something to collectively agree on.
Playing at Milwaukee Washington in the state tournament is a gauntlet.
Wauwatosa West found it out Saturday night, falling to the Purgolders, 78-67, on the same floor the Red Raiders of Wauwatosa East had the season end a year ago.
Playing without suspended leading scorer Quevyn Winters and fellow junior Dominique Williams, Milwaukee Washington used a balanced attack of four players scoring 15 points or more. Winters and Williams were suspended from play last week after an incident with an official. Coach Jay Kenseth's new game plan served him well against a Wauwatosa West team that came to fight.
“When the door of opportunity closes for someone, it opens for someone else so we're going small and trying to reinvent ourselves,” Kenseth said. “The Tosa West players are great warriors and the coach is one of the kindest people I've ever met in my life.
“Those kids exemplify what he believes in. Tough, tough kids.”
Senior Ray Sterling established his toughness early for the Trojans scoring nine of his 19 points in the first quarter as Wauwatosa West built an early five-point lead. West attacked the rim despite the presence of 6-foot 7-inch Washington senior Jon Cathey-Macklin blocking a pair of shots and altering several more. The aggressive play kept the Trojans out front until the middle of the second quarter.
“Ray is an inspiration to our entire team with how hard he works and tonight was an example of that,” Wauwatosa West coach Mike Landisch said. “He came out and did everything he could to help the team win.
“We wanted to keep attacking the basket, get some foul calls and get to the free-throw line.”
The squads exchanged the lead seven times in the second quarter before Washington pulled away on a 12-0 run that featured five different Purgolder scorers. Senior Terry Taylor asserted himself as Washington's new leading scorer, finishing the game with 17 points, nine coming in the second quarter. Taylor has averaged 16.5 points per game in the two tournament games.
An 8-2 run to open the second half for Wauwatosa West closed the gap to four points midway through the third quarter. That was as close as the Trojans got to Washington but that didn't mean the fourth quarter wasn't played with passion.
With 6 minutes remaining in the game the Purgolders had four consecutive possessions which resulted in Cathey-Macklin dunk attempts, giving both teams a chance to show they were still working hard.
The first was a beautiful one handed flush from the right side on a dish from sophomore Tony Mayfield then next an alley-oop reverse finish on a lob pass from Taylor. Wauwatosa West responded when Sterling swatted the next attempt off the backboard and on the final attempt Sam Krenzien broke up a lob pass to end the sequence.
Krenzien scored 11 points in his final quarter of high school basketball and 21 to lead his team in scoring one final time.
“This senior class is a huge class and we are going to miss them but they set the foundation,” Landisch said. “Our underclassman are hungry, Tosa West basketball is on the rise and this senior class is the reason for that.”
The Trojans finished the emotional season, inspired by Landisch's battle with cancer, with a 16-6 record. Players and coaches from both sides joined in the center of the court after the game as the gym fell silent for a moment to show support for Landisch.
Milwaukee Washington moves on to face Milwaukee Riverside on Thursday night at the Al McGuire Center.
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