With the second season about to get underway, coach Tim Arndorfer has his Wauwatosa East Red Raiders playing some of their better basketball of the season.
The Red Raiders are riding a 3-game winning streak, having beaten Waukesha South, Marquette and West Allis Central, 45-34, in the regular-season finale Feb. 14 on the road.
"We have been playing well as of late," Arndorfer said, "especially on the defensive end. That's really important going into the tournament."
The win streak has improved Tosa East's overall record to 12-9 and moved the Red Raiders into third place (8-6) in the final Greater Metro Conference standings behind Sussex Hamilton and Brookfield Central, each with 13-1 records.
Pius XI finished with a 13-9 overall and third place (10-7) in the Woodland-West Division. The Popes are fifth-seeded, while the Red Raiders are fourth-seeded in the upper bracket of the regional.
Top-seeded Wisconsin Lutheran will play the winner of Tuesday's game between eighth-seeded Milwaukee Lutheran and ninth-seeded Messmer on Friday. The winner of the Tosa East/Pius game will in all likelihood play the Vikings at WISCO on Saturday.
"We were pleased with our fourth seeding in the playoffs," Arndorfer said. "At the very least it gave us another home game for our 11 seniors.
"Pius is a good team," he continued. "They have two legitimate scorers (Levi Bradley/Donovan Jackson, each averaging 17 points per game). We will have to limit their touches and hopefully make it difficult for them. If we can hold them both or one below their averages we've got a shot."
Arndorfer knows he needs better scoring balance than he has been getting.
"We are going to need some contributions from players beyond Anthony (Carroll) and Nate (Moore) on the offensive end (both averaging 13 points). At this stage of the season, the scorers and 'go-to' players are well established. If you can get some other guys to do things, it could be the difference between winning or ending your season. I hope that we play with a sense of urgency."
Arndorfer is also hoping the seniors will have an extra incentive.
"With 11 seniors, they have to know that an off night ends your career. We will need them to take that approach as we head into the weekend."
The Red Raiders led most of the game as the Bulldogs (4-10, 9-13) hung around for most of it.
Tosa East trailed 10-9 after one, but then rallied in the second quarter (17-11) to take a slim 26-20 lead into halftime. The Bulldogs pulled closer in the third quarter (10-8) to cut the lead to 34-30, but the Red Raiders took control of the game with an 11-3 fourth-quarter run.
Tosa East converted 14-for-18 from the free-throw line while the Bulldogs only made it there five times and sank four.
Senior Nate Moore led the way with 17 points, including 5-for-6 from the free-throw line. Senior Anthony Carroll added 12, including 3-for-4 from the line, and Derrick Hurt had eight points, with 4-for-5 coming from the line.
West Allis Central's Brandon Key scored 16 points while Ron Turkvan added 10 points.
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