The Wauwatosa East boys basketball team battled inconsistency. All you have to do is look at the Red Raiders' streaky performance.
The Red Raiders started quickly, winning six of their first eight games. But then the inconsistency took over.
They lost four in a row.
They won the next four.
They lost the next three.
They won the next four, before ending the season by losing to Wisconsin Lutheran in the regional finals.
As a result they finished with a 14-10 overall record, taking third in the Greater Metro Conference (8-6) behind co-champions Sussex Hamilton and Brookfield Central, each 13-1.
"I wish I had an answer," Tosa East coach Tim Arndorfer said. "Early on, our defense was really reliable. Even with the offense struggling. Unfortunately, I think that masked the fact on how bad our offense was.
"When we got away from that identity (good defense), the offense was limited and we were hurt by it," he continued. "We started to recognize our weakness - when we tried to address the weakness (offense), we tended to forget about our strength (defense). And that's on me, not the players. We tried to stay away from those two- and four-point quarters."
The disappointing part was the Red Raiders had 11 seniors on the roster who had most, if not all, of the playing time.
They were led by MVP point guard Nate Moore, who averaged 10.5 points in conference, 16.5 points in non-conference game and 12.3 overall. He had 65 assists and 33 steals in 23 games.
"He brought a lot to the table on the offensive end, being a scoring point guard who could hurt you with his scoring ability or his ability to find his teammates," Arndorfer said of Moore, a first-team all-conference selection and team captain.
Anthony Carroll, who topped the team in scoring (13.1), was a second-team all-conference selection.
"Anthony was a not only a scorer, but he was a terror on the defensive end," Arndorfer said. "He often turned defense into offense. Offensively, he could hurt you inside and out."
Arndorfer then commented on the rest of his senior class.
Ben Mihelich: "He averaged 10.5 points and was honorable mention all-conference. He was a scrappy, undersized big man who did a lot of little things for us that helped us be successful."
Ben Carpenter: "A fierce competitor; one of the best competitors we've had in six years. He was a terrific defensive player who led by example."
Derrick Hurt: "He was the X-factor for us in a lot of games, especially on the defensive end. His defensive presence was his greatest attribute."
Kyle Vnuk: "An inside-outside threat, he was asked to do a lot on the inside and the perimeter. He was one of those guys you tell what do and he says yes, he is willing to do it."
Mich Dillon: "A tough year with his injuries. He never really got things going. But he gave us great effort the last couple of weeks."
Devin Ross: "He gave us a physical presence on perimeter. He was one of our stronger defenders. He was a nice, quiet, humble kid."
John Murphy: "He gave four years to the program. He was a great teammate and true Red Raider."
Javon Williams: "Another great teammate who understood his role. He worked hard to get the guards better in practice."
Kenny Wilson: "This was his first year as a Tosa East basketball player. He was a great teammate. He didn't see the floor. But he really embraced his role."
Arndorfer ranked victories over Milwaukee Washington and wins over Marquette and Pius XI as big highlights.
"We had a tough loss the night before against Sussex Hamilton and then came back and beat our crosstown rival (MUHS)," Arndorfer said. "That win stands out. They showed me a lot of resolve to do that.
"The Pius game. It was a classic battle, in like of many of the ones we used to have in the past with them. Especially the way it ended (on a buzzer beater by Mihelich)."
Other award winners announced Monday night at the banquet - besides Moore being MVP - were Nick Pridgeon (Most Improved Player) and Carpenter (Coaches Award).
Mihelich and Carpenter also earned GMC Scholar-Athlete Awards.
With a loss of 11 seniors, Arndorfer looked ahead to next year. He doesn't like to use the word 'rebuilding' but it probably will apply in 2013-14.
"There are always high expectations for Tosa East basketball," he said. "I'm not sure what those outside expect from us. But we as coaches and the players coming back know what we expect.
"There are going to be some challenges," he continued. "We are not only losing 11 seniors, but we are losing five starters. No one in the junior class got a lot of game experience.
Arndorder said there will be a lot of competition at all levels.
"It's open season," he said. "Nothing should be assumed; nothing will be given to them. They need to go into the off-season thinking about working their butt off for not only a place on the varsity, but a starting position.
"We haven't really dealt with it," he continued. "These are uncharted waters for us. We hope they are up to the challenge."
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