A lot goes into turning around a program, but there is nothing more valuable to developing a winning culture than experiencing positive results.
Wauwatosa West's girls basketball team took a major step forward in that regard last week by recording a 75-56 win over West Allis Central on Dec. 27 and an 81-48 victory over Hartford on Dec. 28 to win West Allis Central's Ab Nicholas Scholarship Foundation Holiday Hoops Classic.
The Trojans enter 2017 on a three-game winning streak to already match last season's win total at 4-5 overall.
"I'm hoping this kind of gets us going a little bit," Tosa West coach Gordon Nikolic said. "We have a tough week coming up with New Berlin West on Friday and Tosa East on Saturday. It is getting there. One of our goals coming into the year was to win this tournament.
"If we can keep it going, we will keep it going. If not, we have to learn from every game. It is not about the moral victories. We're going to try to knock off one of the top (Woodland West) teams. I think teams are realizing we are not the same Tosa West team that has played before."
Hartford jumped out to a 19-12 lead on Tosa West in the championship game, but the Trojans used a 17-0 run to grab a 29-19 advantage.
"Olivia Lefevre got us rolling with a 3, and all of a sudden the lid came off the basket and the 3s kept rolling in," Nikolic said. "(Emma) Elliott banked one in off a set play. Marge (Radske) hit one right before halftime. Everybody started feeling good. We've been really shooting well in practice. It is just a matter of relaxing and letting the game come to you."
Tosa West didn't let up, pouring in 18 points over the last 5 minutes, 44 seconds of the half to lead, 47-28, at the break. The Trojans continued to shoot the ball well in the second half to grow their lead to 40 points to send the game to a running clock.
Able to do as it pleased against Hartford's defense, Tosa West went 29-for-58 (50 percent) from the field. Four different players hit multiple 3-pointers, as the Trojans hit nine triples. Tosa West took care of the ball and used its pressure to record 21 steals.
"They are not used to a culture of winning, so hopefully we are starting to turn that around a little bit," Nikolic said. "I told the kids that if we shoot like that, we can beat anybody in the conference. I don't care who you are playing. We had 47 points at halftime."
Cheri'a Adams led the Trojans with 14 points. Irene Phillips added 13 points, five assists and five steals; Dasia Davis recorded a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds with five steals; and Emma Elliott scored 9 points.
West Allis Central
Leading, 26-22, at halftime, Tosa West outscored West Allis Central, 49-34, in the second half to pull away for a 75-56 win.
Davis led the Trojans with 16 points and 16 rebounds. Phillips scored 15 points on three made 3-pointers, Elliott added 13 points and 7 rebounds; Emily Wagy finished with 8 points; and Adams chipped in with 7 points.
Tosa West shot 43.8 percent (21-for-48) against the Bulldogs (1-8 overall) and connected on eight 3-pointers.
Tosa West will host New Berlin West, ranked No. 7 in Division 2, at 7:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6. The Trojans will then face crosstown rival Tosa East at Tosa West at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7.