The final two weeks of the Greater Metro Conference season are filled with many road blocks for Sussex Hamilton to navigate in order to capture a conference title.
After Friday, the Chargers are looking to turn those road blocks into dominoes, with the linchpin being a 60-36 win at Wauwatosa East.
Sussex Hamilton now moves to 11-0 in the conference (18-1 overall), a full five games ahead of Tosa East at 6-5 (10-8), eliminating the Red Raiders from contention. The Chargers have two games next week against sub .500 teams before finishing the regular season with back to back road games against contenders Brookfield Central and Marquette.
Against the Chargers
Tosa East won four straight entering Friday's game, almost matching the five-game winning streak the Red Raiders accomplished to open the season. Unfortunately the season was plagued by a four-game losing streak as well, leaving the Red Raiders shy of a conference championship but with an imminent and solid top-half finish.
Charger scoring machine junior guard Brady Ellingson didn't get going offensively until the second half against Tosa East, but the timing was right to help the Chargers pull away from the pesky Red Raiders. Ellingson scored seven of his game-high 16 points in the third quarter, helping Sussex Hamilton to an 18-point lead after three quarters, 43-25.
The second half scoring burst was supplemented by fellow junior guard Austin Kendziorski. Kendziorski piled in a couple of treys in the third, adding to his 15 total points and notching his third double-digit scoring performance of the year. It was also Kendziorski that kept Sussex Hamilton afloat early.
"With a lot of the attention being on Brady it feels good to knock down a few shots early on," Kendziorski said. "Making those shots helps Brady get some open looks as the game goes on."
Tosa East played a great first quarter, with team defense setting the early tone against Ellingson and Nate Moore facilitating the offense on every possession. After three lead changes, the Red Raiders maintained a one-point advantage, closing out the first frame by holding Ellingson to just one basket on four tries.
Moore dominated the offense for the Red Raiders, not with his scoring but with his passing. The senior point guard assisted all but one of the Tosa East field goals in the quarter and his ball handling created several more scoring opportunities for his teammates throughout the game. The combination of success on both ends left the Red Raiders ahead 8-7 after one period.
"When I can make good passes it gets my confidence going and helps the team out," Moore said. "It helps to get everyone playing unselfish."
The second quarter also started well for the Red Raiders as they extended the lead to three points before the Sussex Hamilton attack started gaining traction. Not surprisingly, it was the three-ball that got it going for the Chargers, but instead of the sharpshooting Ellingson, it was Kendziorski draining the long balls. Kendziorski found himself open for back-to-back three-pointers to first tie the game and then to send Sussex Hamilton ahead, 13-10.
Hamilton continued to solve the Tosa East zone the old fashioned way, simply starting to make some outside shots. Despite the continued closeouts from the Red Raiders, Kendziorski drilled another three from the quarter and Ellingson finally put another shot home on the final possession of the first half.
As Kendziorski led all scorers in the first half with nine points, Ellingson managed just six points on eight shots, as the Chargers pulled ahead 22-15 at halftime.
"We were trying to make other players beat us," Moore said. "Eventually we just had to adjust our defense from zone to man-to-man. They shot us out of that defense basically."
Tosa East was led by Anthony Carroll with 10 points and Ben Mihelich added eight. An amazing stat: Tosa East made it to the free-throw line once, as Carroll went 1-for-1.
The Red Raiders were upset by West Allis Hale, 57-55, Tuesday on the road, so Tosa East now has to carry a two-game losing streak into Friday's game with Brookfield Central at East.
Hale took a 37-28 lead into halftime Tuesday, but then the Red Raiders went on a 20-6 run after halftime to take a 48-43 lead into the final period.
But the Huskies doubled up the score (14-7) and won a thriller to improve to 3-8 in GMC play.
Carroll scored 21 points to lead all scorers, as he was 4-for-5 from the free-throw line and tossed in three 3-pointers. Nate Moore added 11.
But Hale made the most of their points, as only four players scored: Noel Crabtree (20), Derrick Waller (14), Nick Sotiros (14) and Travis Balcerzak (eight).
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