Wauwatosa East's boys basketball team had a short memory last week at the Rick Majerus WBY Shootout at Concordia University, quickly putting a loss to state-ranked Ripon in the rear-view mirror to bounce back for a convincing win over Dominican.
Led by Ohio University commit Bennett Vander Plas, Ripon, the top-ranked team in Division 2, was too much for Tosa East to handle, as the Tigers cruised to a 72-53 victory on Dec. 27. Two days later, the Red Raiders came out firing from beyond the arc against Dominican and held on for a 62-49 victory.
"We don't have a cupcake all year," Tosa East coach Tim Arndorfer said. "I liked the way we bounced back from a tough loss against a very, very good Ripon team. These guys are reslient, and they perservere. Hopefully, we can keep that going."
Ripon used a 10-0 run midway through the first half to turn a 16-11 lead into a 26-11 advantage and didn't look back against Tosa East.
If it wasn't the 6-foot-8 Vander Plas dominating the undersized Red Raiders inside, it was Eddie Muench drilling difficult jump shots. Vander Plas finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds, while Muench scored a game-high 30 points on 12-of-24 shooting, including connecting on on five 3-pointers.
"That's a great 1-2 punch," Arndorfer said. "They put a lot of solid role players around them. Vander Plas was a load. We didn't have answer for him when they got it down low. Muench shot the lights out. You can't double him, and when we did, he made us pay for it.
"Obviously, we'd like to have been more competitive. I think we kicked ourselves in the butt a few times and got stops but then had nothing to show for it."
Tosa East used an 8-0 spurt to cut Ripon's lead to 58-46 with 5:29 remaining, but Muench followed with consecutive 3-point plays to quickly put the Tigers back in control of the game.
After reaching the sectional semifinals a year ago, Ripon is the favorite to win the Division 3 crown this season. The Tigers have begun the season 10-0 with their closest game being a 16-point win over Dominican on Dec. 29.
Blake Kratzer led Tosa East with 13 points. Dane Mikkelson added 9 points, while Jalen Holley and Mahlik Lindsey each scored 6 points. The Red Raiders shot just 34.6 percent (18-for-52) from the field and were 3-for-12 from beyond the arc.
Tosa East hit five 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes against Dominican, taking a 19-12 lead en route to a 37-25 halftime lead.
The full-court pressure of the Red Raiders (3-4 overall) forced the Knights into 15 turnovers, nine of which came during the first half when Tosa East built its double-digit edge.
"We think we have the guys to do it," Arndorfer said of the full-court press. "It was encouraging to see us have success with it against a well-coached team against Dominican. We'll keep flirting with it and working on it. It made a big difference today."
Dominican drew to within 50-43 with 5:29 to play, but Kratzer went 8-for-8 from the foul line during a 12-0 run that was capped by a jumper by Lindsey that gave Tosa East a 62-43 advantage with 2:06 to play.
Kratzer again paced the Red Raiders with 13 points, while Lindsey added 12 points and Deshun Hunter scored 11 points. Mikkelson chipped in with 9 points and six rebounds, and Jalen Holley pulled down eight rebounds.
"It was really big getting to the bonus as early as we did," Arndorfer said. "We knew they were going to pick up their pressure to try to get back in the game, and they did. We kind of panicked to start the second half and finally kind of settled in. Free throws are another area we are looking to get better at, and Blake did a real nice job. That's what you want out of your point guard."
Tosa East will return to Greater Metro play with a road game at Menomonee Falls at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6. The Red Raiders will travel to Tosa West to face the Trojans at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7.