On a losing streak for the first time this season, Wauwatosa East's girls basketball team badly needed a victory to get back on track.
After a 55-43 loss to Divine Savior Holy Angels on Jan. 31, the Red Raiders earned that streak-stopping win with a 54-42 defeat of Menomonee Falls on Feb. 3 to improve to 13-5 on the season. With three conference games remaining, Tosa East sits in fourth place in the Greater Metro Conference at 6-5.
Trailing, 27-26, at halftime, the Red Raiders outscored the Indians, 28-15, in the second half to pull away for the win.
"We played defense throughout, even during the opening minutes when Falls didn't seem like it could miss in the face of decent defense," Tosa East coach Rob Hamill said. "I think they went 9-for-10 in the first half of the first half.
"But to our credit, we hung with them and did not quit. We harped on staying organized at practice during the week, and I think it paid off Friday night. We must continue to believe in the schemes and structures we use. That is when we are best on the offensive end."
Sophomore forward Brooklyn Blackburn and senior forward Johanna Taylor each scored 20 points to lead Tosa East. Both players finished with double-doubles, as Blackburn pulled down 14 rebounds and Taylor had 11 rebounds.
Junior forward Elizabeth Bueckers added 7 points, five rebounds and three assists.
"One of the most important things that led to the success on Friday is that our two leading scorers in the game — Brooklyn and Johanna — made the shots they took at a much higher percentage," Hamill said. "Against DSHA, we went 15-for-50 on 2-point field goals. Even if we get five of those shots to fall, the DSHA game is a different experience.
"Part of the reason for the low percentage definitely had to do with the defense DSHA played, but also a part of it was our concentration on the easy shot finishes that was lacking a little bit Tuesday."
An 18-0 second-half run by DSHA cost Tosa East, as the Dashers overcame a 20-18 halftime deficit by outscoring the Red Raiders, 37-23, after the break.
Blackburn finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds; Bueckers had 10 points, 11 rebounds and five steals; and Taylor had 10 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots.
"The 18-0 run was simply DSHA getting some opportunities and getting hot," Hamill said. "Our defensive effort was not 100 percent to blame. DSHA simply got hot and buried some shots. It was one of those situations that can kind of be contagious for them I think."
Tosa East was set to host DSHA (11-8, 8-3 Greater Metro) on Feb. 7 before playing at West Allis Hale (10-9, 3-8) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 10.
"Each game, each week brings its own unique challenges," Hamill said. "We just got to keep working at what we do best."