The Wauwatosa West boys basketball team seemingly has a way to reach the levels of the top teams in the Woodland Conference West Division — at least for a full game.
Last week, the Trojans lost to Pewaukee (10-1, 5-1) and New Berlin Eisenhower (10-0, 6-0) by a combined 40 points, 165-125. But if one just looks at the first half of each game, they played each team even, scoring 71 points apiece. That 94-54 second-half deficit will kill you, though.
'This week showed that we are capable of playing with the league's best for long stretches,' Tosa West coach Chad Stelse said. 'But we need to maintain that focus and energy for two halves. I look forward to putting together 36 minutes of solid play Friday vs. Pius.'
Following the game against the Popes at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, the Trojans play at Greenfield (0-10, 0-6) on Jan. 22 and then at Wauwatosa East (3-7) on Jan. 23. The Trojans were 4-6 overall coming into this week and 1-5 in conference play, tied with New Berlin West, a team they already easily defeated.
After trailing, 43-41, at Pewaukee on Jan. 5, the Pirates exploded in the second half, 51-30, to win going away, 92-73.
'Both teams played really well in the first half,' Stelse said. 'We were eight out of nine from the 3-point line the first half, and both teams shot over 50 percent in that first half.'
So what happened in the second half?
'They played even better than they did the first half,' Stelse said. 'They shot the lights out, missing five shots the entire second half. We had a few bad possessions to start the second half, and they capitalized with ball movement, and they hit shot after shot to widen the gap most of the second half.'
West couldn't stop Pewaukee senior guard Alex Clement, who scored 27 points, including five 3-point shots. Junior forwards Redmon Wallace and Aiden Nordquist each added 17, and 6-foot-6-inch junior forward Wyatt Cook added 15.
Junior Tyrone Powell, a 6-foot-7-inch forward, led the way for the Trojans with 18 points, including two 3-pointers. He also had three assists. Steady Alou Dillon had 17 points with three 3-pointers, and junior guard Se'veon James had 9 points, including three 3-pointers. Javaree Jackson pulled down a team-leading seven rebounds.
'Tyrone played really well,' Stelse said. 'When he gives consistent effort and energy, he is capable of having big games. He made his first few outside shots, gained confidence and played his best game of the season.'
Freshman Marquiss Childs was the third Trojan in double figures with 10 points, including two 3-pointers. He also added four rebounds, three offensive, and handed out four assists.
'Marquiss played his first varsity game, and he showed that he was ready,' Stelse said. 'He is really quick with the ball and got to the basket after breaking down the defense and also hit a few jumpers. There will be growing pains, but we feel he can help us on both ends. He adds to our depth.'
Each team missed several free throws, with Tosa West making 10 of 18 and Pewaukee 19 of 28.
West then took on undefeated and first-place Eisenhower, 72-53, on Jan. 8 and trailed only 30-28 at intermission.
'Again, we played well the first half,' Stelse said. 'But as soon as we got down, we didn't play with the same energy and passion that we did in the first half.'
The Lions outscored them by 19 points, 43-24, and ball movement was the key, according to Stelse.
'Our zone defense was effective against them the first half, but they moved the ball more in the second half and we lost focus with our rotations,' he said. 'A good team like Ike will make you pay when you don't play with energy the entire possession.'
West had eight players score, but four of them managed only two points each. Dillon was 7-for-7 from the free-throw line and sank two 3-pointers to lead the way with a game-high 23 points. He had 40 points in the two games.
Tyrone Powell added 9 points, James scored 7 and LaRon Perine had 5.
'Alou played well, but we need other guys to step up and score for us consistently,' Stelse said. 'Until that happens, Alou will continue to demand a lot of attention from opposing defenses.'
Both teams had success from the free-throw line, but the Lions got to the line twice as many times. West was 9 of 10, and Eisenhower was 15 of 20.
The win was the 400th career win for Eisenhower coach Dave Scheidegger.