Once the Brookfield East girls basketball team was able to set up its pressure defense, the Spartans became too much for Wauwatosa East.
Swarming the Red Raiders with full-court pressure, Brookfield East forced 19 turnovers in a 63-37 victory over Tosa East in the teams' Greater Metro Conference opener on Dec. 2.
"We just lost our discipline," Wauwatosa East coach Rob Hamill said. "That was the whole thing. In the first half when we were doing the things we've been teaching and playing disciplined, we were showing what we can do. Then when they make a little run, we weren't able to respond in a disciplined way, and it got a little out of hand."
After a back-and-forth start to the game, the Spartans began to pull away late in the first half. A 3-pointer by Emma Ralfs with 6:26 to play in the half started a 12-3 run that put Brookfield East up, 25-17, at the break.
The Spartans (3-1, 1-0 Greater Metro) carried the momentum over, opening the second half on a 10-2 spurt to open up a double-digit lead they would not relinquish.
Brookfield East had four different players finish with multiple steals, including Ralfs with five and Nikki Pink with four.
"That's what we aim to do with most teams," Brookfield East coach Michael Goodman said. "Some teams handle the ball a little bit better (than others), but we like to call our full-court pressure 'wreaking havoc' modeled after (coach) Shaka Smart at VCU and Texas. Once we got some balls in the hoop, we could press and create some turnovers."
With strong defense, the young Red Raiders (3-1 overall, 0-1 GMC) hung around in the first half by preventing Brookfield East from scoring and thus not allowing it to set up in its press.
But the game slipped away when the Spartans began to score easy baskets.
"We emphasize stepping out on ball screens, and we were doing that very well and recovering well," Hamill said. "We got a little fatigued maybe and stopped doing it and gave them too many easy opportunities. Against their pressure, which we knew was coming and prepared for, we just didn't handle."
Sophomore forward Brooklyn Blackburn led Tosa East with 10 points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Molly Persin added 8 points, junior guard Mariana Ibanez-Baldor had 6 points and senior forward Johanna Taylor grabbed nine rebounds.
"We had a good conversation in the locker room afterward," Hamill said. "I think the girls are ready to be mentally healthy. I don't think we are 30 points less than these guys. I think it is a good wake-up call for the conference because our conference will be a lot of close games."
Tosa East began last week with a 40-30 nonconference victory over Saint Thomas More on Nov. 29.
The Red Raiders, which led 21-16 at halftime, coaxed Thomas More into 22 turnovers and limited the Cavaliers to just 12-of-52 shooting (23.1 percent) from the field.
Blackburn led the Red Raiders with 14 points, while Taylor added 12 points and Persin scored 8 points.
Tosa East was scheduled to play at Milwaukee Lutheran in a nonconference game Tuesday, Dec. 6. The Red Raiders will return to Greater Metro play at Brookfield Central for a 7:30 p.m. game Friday, Dec. 9.