If Wauwatosa West's boys basketball faces a close game down the stretch in the playoffs, it received a great tune-up for a back-and-forth battle in its regular-season finale against Greenfield on Feb. 22.
By earning crucial defensive stops and hitting just enough free throws, the Trojans pulled out a 72-67 victory over the Hustlin' Hawks in their final ever Woodland Conference game to close the regular season at 12-10 overall and in fourth place in the Woodland West at 8-8.
Tosa West used a 15-2 run to take a 33-23 lead on a 3-pointer by senior guard Seveon James with 5:18 remaining in the first half. Greenfield answered by scoring 6 straight points and pulled to within 40-36 at halftime.
Neither team led by more than 6 points in the second half.
Greenfield took a 51-50 lead, but senior guard LeRon Perine scored 5 straight points to put the Trojans in front at 55-51 with 8:17 left. The Hustlin' Hawks stayed within striking distance, however.
A layup off an offensive rebound by senior forward Javaree Jackson gave Tosa West its biggest lead of the second half at 64-58 with 2:44 to play.
With the Trojans leading, 64-61, Greenfield's Rayvon Bartlett missed a layup, leading to a transition basket by senior forward Alou Dillon that put Tosa West up 66-61 with 1:06 remaining. Bartlett answered quickly, finishing a 3-point play to cut it to 66-64 with 57.7 seconds left.
Sophomore guard Marquiss Childs hit a pair of free throws to make it 68-64 with 50.0 seconds on the clock, and Elijah Rosario was called for an offensive foul on the other end with 40.6 seconds remaining. After James put the Trojans up, 69-64, by splitting a pair of free throws, Bartlett took the ball to the hole for a layup to make it 69-66 with 30.5 left.
James then missed two free throws, giving the Hustlin' Hawks life. After Greenfield grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed triple, Tosa West fouled Bartlett on a 3-point try, sending the former Trojan to the line for three free throws and a chance to tie the game with 9.7 seconds to play. But he missed two of three, forcing Greenfield to foul James with 7.3 seconds left.
James split the pair of foul shots, putting Tosa West up, 70-67.
After two timeouts, junior guard Noah Katula tipped the inbounds attempt back off of Bartlett, who was still out of bounds. That gave the Trojans the ball with 5.2 seconds left, and Dillon hit two free throws to ice the game.
James led Tosa West with 14 points, while Perine added 13 points. Jackson finished with a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds, senior guard Paris Howell scored 8 points, and Childs had 8 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Tosa West is the No. 4 seed in its half of the WIAA Division 2 Brown Deer sectional and will open the playoffs at home at 7 p.m. Friday, March 3 against the winner of the opening-round game between fifth-seeded Wauwatosa East (12-10, 10-4 Greater Metro) and 12th-seeded Milwaukee School of the Arts (3-18, 0-7 Milwaukee City-Blue).
If the Trojans win, they would likely travel to top-seeded Milwaukee Washington (17-4, 10-1 Milwaukee City) for a regional final Saturday, March 4.