When at its best this season, the Wauwatosa West girls basketball team is flying around the court playing an aggressive pressure defense. But because the Trojans have had trouble staying out foul trouble, they have had to pick their spots as to when to use their pressure.
Because of this, Tosa West opened up its game against Greendale on Dec. 20 in a match-up zone defense. But after the Panthers began the game up 11-0, it was time to turn it up a notch. The Trojans switched to a three-quarter-court pressure defense, tied the game at 13 in less than two minutes and rolled from there for a 58-34 victory.
"We don't want to press right away, so that took us out of our game against Greendale," Tosa West coach Gordon Nikolic said. "We knew if we wanted to get back in the game that we had to extend our pressure to three-quarter-court, and they started to turn it over.
"That win was much needed. You can get moral victories all you want, but a win is a win."
The Trojans (2-5 overall, 2-3 Woodland West) used a 33-7 run to turn the 11-point deficit into a 33-18 lead at the break.
Tosa West had been called for at least 31 fouls in each of its past two games, as the young Trojans are still learning how to play their pressure defense without fouling. When the pressure is clicking, Tosa West can hang with most teams, as evidenced by trailing New Berlin Eisenhower by just 6 points with 5 minutes to play before the Lions pulled away for an 18-point win.
"I have a lot of other coaches telling me how scrappy and tough we are," Nikolic said. "We just sometimes play too aggressive. They are still trying to figure out how they can be aggressive without the extra contact. I think we are starting to get that, which is good to see."
Eight different Tosa West players scored, and the Trojans had 19 assists on 23 made field goals. Senior forward Dasia Davis paced the Trojans with 13 points. Junior guard Emma Elliott scored 10 points with 7 rebounds, senior guard Lizzy Fassbender had 9 points, sophomore guard Irene Phillips scored 8 points and junior forward Emily Wagy had 7 points.
Sophomore guard Margaret Radske led the Trojans with 10 rebounds.
"Irene Phillips really has been playing well and is coming along as a sophomore," Nikolic said. "Dasia Davis is just steady, giving us 12 to 15 a night. Emma Elliott had a good game and hit a big 3 for us. Margaret Radske led us in rebounds. That shows you how scrappy she is."
Cassidy Sanchez led Greendale (3-5 overall, 1-4 Woodland West) with 9 points.
At 2-3 in league play, the Trojans are one game behind Pius XI for fourth place. Eisenhower leads the conference at 6-0 with New Berlin West at 5-0, Pewaukee at 4-2 and Pius XI at 3-2.
Tosa West was slated to play in the Ab Nicholas Holiday Hoops Classic at West Allis Central High School on Dec. 27 and 28. The Trojans were to play West Allis Central at 5 p.m. Dec. 27 with Delavan-Darien facing Hartford at 3:15 p.m. The third-place game is at 6:45 p.m. and the championship at 8 p.m. on Dec. 28.
The Trojans will return to Woodland West play with a home game against New Berlin West at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6.