The Wauwatosa East girls basketball team rallied in the second half and defeated Whitefish Bay, 43-35, on Friday at home to win the regional championship. It wasn't the only good news of the night for the second-seeded Red Raiders (18-6).
Elsewhere on the same night, fourth-seeded Shorewood (16-8) upset top-seeded Pius XI (15-9), 49-40. As a result, Shorewood and Tosa East will meet in the West Allis Central sectional semifinal at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Whitefish Bay led the game at half, 18-15, as both teams struggled with turnovers against two aggressive defenses.
"We talked about our passing, which was sloppy," Tosa East coach Rob Hamill said about his halftime speech. "We talked about concentrating on our finishes (seven missed layups). We talked about our missed free throws. I told them to continue to play the type of defense they were."
In the second half, a fastbreak basket by Mia Brower gave the Blue Dukes a 26-20 lead. But Tosa East then went on a couple runs, outscoring Bay, 23-9, in the final 10:33.
Mariana Ibanez-Baldor hit a huge 3-pointer, and Brooklyn Blackburn scored a layup before Sam Loyda hit a 3-pointer for Bay's final meaningful basket of the night with 9:22 left to play.
Senior captain Johanna Taylor, who scored all 8 of her points in the second half, hit two free throws and a layup with an assist from Sydney Halstead to tie the game at 29-all at the 7:19 mark.
"I knew it could be a possible last game," Taylor said. "But then at halftime, I know how I was struggling and I told myself to leave it all on the court."
Dora Stasiak then hit 1-of-2 free throws to give Bay its final lead of the night at 30-29 with 6:23 left to play, and East then went on an 9-0 run. Liz Bueckers took the ball to the hoop twice and was fouled, then sank all four free throws. Taylor scored on a drive, Halstead hit a jumper and 1-of-2 free throws for a 38-30 lead with 1:24 left.
"I just think we needed something to get us started, because we got down early in the game," Bueckers said. "But I just think we needed that push, and everyone got going, and we ended up on top."
Bay coach Jon Schneider lost two of his best players to foul trouble - Brower (5:57) and Ellie Clements (3:42).
"We got into a little foul trouble late in the second half, and that hurt our offensive flow a little bit," he said. "We were really patient early in the game, and when we began to get inpatient late in the second half, we picked up some silly fouls.
"Tosa did a nice job of helping, and we weren't able to convert. I give Tosa credit; they handled our pressure in the second half much better than they did in the first. They were able to get some easy looks in some of our zone that they weren't able to get in the first half."
Schneider's own offense was betrayed by poor shooting.
"We just couldn't hit shots," he said. "I give a lot of credit to their defense. They picked up and pressured us. Their defense in the second half kind of dictated the way we played our offense."
Bueckers pointed out that defense was the key for the Red Raiders.
"Our defense really kept us in the game," she said. "We're probably better at defense than offense."
Blackburn, who scored 40 points in the semifinal win Friday and just missed tying the school single-game record of 41 set by Katie Salmon, led the way with 11 points, and Ibanez-Baldor had 10, including three big 3-pointers. Brower and Grace James had 8 points each to lead Bay, which finished 14-10.