Wauwatosa East boys basketball coach Tim Arndorfer is getting sick of just hanging around.
Friday night the Red Raiders lost their fifth game in six outings, dropping a 60-50 decision at Brookfield Central. The Lancers couldn't shake Tosa East all night before sinking 10 of 12 free throws down the stretch.
"We hang in there a lot, but hanging in there isn't good enough," a dejected Arndorfer said. "We battle back, but we are so good at giving leads right back to them. We can close gaps, and then let them extend leads. Unfortunately, that's what we've been very good at."
Central's two best players - Riley LaChance (4 minutes, 42 seconds) and Seth Mortag (3:24) - went to the bench with two fouls apiece in the first quarter, but the Lancers led 14-6. They were leading, 16-8, at 6:21 of the second quarter, when the Red Raiders went on a 9-0 run.
Junior guard Nate Moore hit two free throws, senior guard Diamonte Mckinley hit a 3-pointer, senior forward Riley Poe scored on a putback and then added two free throws to give Tosa East a 17-16 lead.
With 3:48 left in the half, Central put LaChance back in the game and the momentum changed.
First LaChance stole the ball and scored and then nailed a jumper for a 20-17 lead, but Tosa East junior guard Ben Carpenter nailed a 3-pointer to tie the game. The Lancers' Nick Olson put in a rebound shot, Matt Lauritzen scored on a drive and LaChance closed out the first half with two free throws for a 26-20 lead.
"There were different runs - a game within the game," Central coach Mark Adams said. "I didn't like the way we started out, then we picked up some fouls and instead of playing through it, we didn't have the 'next play' mentality like we talked about."
Tosa East came out and Mckinley hit a jumper and two free throws to cut the lead to 26-24, but that was as close as the Red Raiders would get.
Mortag - who scored 10 of his 15 points in the third period - sparked a 12-2 run from 6:38 through 3:19.
Mortag and LaChance scored on jumpers before LaChance turned two steals into two assists to Mortag, who slammed in two dunks to bring the crowd to its feet.
After Tosa East sophomore Ben Mihelich scored on a rebound, Mortag scored twice, the second on another assist from LaChance for a 38-26 lead.
Arndorfer is looking for people to step up for the Red Raiders, and Carpenter did just that in the third period.
Carpenter, who is an outstanding soccer and baseball player, scored nine of his team-high 14 points in the third quarter to keep the Red Raiders in the game. That total included four 3-pointers.
Carpenter nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to 38-32, LaChance put in two free throws, and Carpenter tossed in another 3 to cut the lead to 40-35 with 58.3 seconds left in the third quarter.
"Carpenter caught fire for them," Adams said, "and threw up 3's from the volleyball line. They made us work hard on defense. We made a little bit of a change - we stopped doing some double teaming and it seemed to help a little bit."
Central took a 47-38 lead in the fourth quarter, but Mckinley scored on a drive, was fouled and converted the free throw to cut the lead to 47-41 with 4:05 left to play. But the Red Raiders couldn't get closer than eight points the rest of the way.
Although the defense played a little better than the offense, the Red Raiders continued to have problems putting the ball in the basket.
"We don't make shots and have an inconsistent effort on the defensive end," Arndorfer said. "We can stop them, but if you're not scoring, it doesn't matter. Obviously again their length and size gave us trouble. But you can't gain possession when you have two of three turnovers in a row."
Arndorfer then praised Carpenter's efforts.
"He was the only one who stepped up and put the ball in the basket, and we're looking for that," he said. "We need to find guys who can score; missed layups, free throws - it's hard to win when playing like that."
Carpenter wasn't pleased with his first-half performance.
"I had to wake up. I had a terrible first half," he said. "I hit one 3, but I had three turnovers and I was letting guys get past me. I knew I had to step up in the second half. I told myself to try harder and when things started to fall and the momentum shifted our way a little bit … but then we lost at the end."
LaChance, who led all scorers with 21 points, knew the Lancers would have their hands full with the Red Raiders.
"That's how Tosa is. They are a good team that plays hard," the talented sophomore said. "That is one thing Tosa has always done over the years. I watched them growing up. They always play hard and get after it."
But lately, the Red Raiders just aren't closing it out.
Waukesha North Regional
1. Milwaukee Samuel Morse-Marshall/Juneau (15-5)
2. Milwaukee Washington (15-5)
3. Whitefish Bay (15-5)
4. Milwaukee Northwest (14-6)
5. Wauwatosa East (13-8)
6. Messmer (17-3)
7. Brown Deer (13-8)
8. Milwaukee Lutheran (10-9)
9. Milwaukee Madison (10-10)
10. Shorewood (10-11)
11. Nicolet (5-16)
12. Wauwatosa West (2-19)
Local first-round games
Wauwatosa West will travel to Wauwatosa East on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. WIAA regional quarter-final battle.
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