Wauwatosa East's girls basketball team found itself on both ends of close games last week, gaining experience which should only be a benefit as it moves toward the postseason.
Ovi Young scored with 5 seconds remaining to lift Divine Savior Holy Angels to a 60-58 win over Tosa East on Feb. 7, but the Red Raiders recovered to close out a 51-50 victory over West Allis Hale on Feb. 10.
Tosa East entered the final week of the regular season at 14-6 overall and in fourth place in the Greater Metro at 7-6.
The Red Raiders led for most of the first half against DSHA, but the Dashers scored the final 4 points of the first half to pull to within 33-29 at halftime, and second half proved to be a back-and-forth affair.
Junior forward Elizabeth Bueckers hit a pair of free throws to pull Tosa East even at 58-58 with 20 seconds left.
After a timeout, Young drove to the hoop and finished to put DSHA up, 60-58, with 5 seconds to play. The Red Raiders set up a play out of a timeout but were unable to get a shot off before time expired.
"A win would have been outstanding," Tosa East coach Rob Hamill said. "But I believe our team believes that they can play with the best as a result of this game."
Sophomore forward Brooklyn Blackburn led the Red Raiders with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Senior center Johanna Taylor finished with 17 points and seven rebounds, and Bueckers scored 10 points.
After a low-scoring first half in which Hale led 17-15 at the break, Tosa East grabbed the lead in the second half but was unable to pull away with Hale guard Alyssa Cruz knocking down multiple long 3-pointers to keep the Huskies close.
The Red Raiders shot just 12 for 49 (24.5 percent) from the field and 1 for 11 from beyond the arc, staying in the game by knocking down 24 of 33 free-throw attempts.
With Tosa East leading, 49-47, junior guard Molly Persin hit two free throws to seal the game with 1.4 seconds remaining. The made foul shots proved crucial when Hale hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to make the end result 51-50.
"The Hale game for us was all about keeping in it from the free-throw line, especially in the first half," Hamill said. "We had a chance in the second half to widen our lead to double digits, but Alyssa Cruz hit a couple of bombs, and it stayed close. We struggled shooting the ball due in part due to Hale's strong defense."
Bueckers recorded a double-double against Hale with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Mariana Ibanez-Baldor scored 12 points with five rebounds and three steals and Taylor had 11 points with nine rebounds.
Tosa East was slated to face Waukesha North (3-17, 0-13 Classic 8) in a nonconference game Jan. 14 before playing its regular-season finale at home against West Allis Central (3-18, 0-13 Greater Metro) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17.
The Red Raiders are the No. 2 seed on their side of the WIAA Division 2 Brown Deer sectional and will open the tournament by hosting the winner of No. 7 seed Milwaukee Washington and No. 10 seed Milwaukee North at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24. With a win, the Red Raiders would play at home against either No. 3 seed Whitefish Bay, No. 6 seed Wauwatosa West or No. 11 seed Messmer in a regional final on Feb. 25.