The Wauwatosa East girls basketball team took care of the West Allis teams in the Greater Metro Conference last week, handing losses to West Allis Hale and West Allis Central.
The two victories were their fourth and fifth consecutive wins, as they improved to 9-4 overall and 3-4 in the GMC, good enough for fifth place.
The East girls now travel to Brookfield East on Friday, Jan. 22, at 7:30 p.m. to take on a struggling Spartans team which have lost three in a row and four of five (9-5, 4-3).
After Tosa East trailed by one in the first half in the first meeting, The Spartans pulled away for a 63-55 win on Dec. 4 at Tosa East.
The Red Raiders then have a quick turnaround with a game against Wauwatosa West at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23, with the boys game to follow. Then they travel to Brookfield Central for a 7:30 p.m. game on Tuesday, Jan. 26.
Second half better
The Red Raiders defeated West Allis Hale, 72-64, on Jan. 12 at Hale to start the week with a game that was a back-and-forth battle all night.
The teams exchanged baskets in the first half, with Tosa East leading, 32-31, and the Huskies played like Tosa East coach Rob Hamill expected.
'West Allis Hale played almost exactly how we scouted,' he said. 'We believed they were going to be very aggressive, wanting to push the ball up the floor at every opportunity and would likely play some 1-3-1 zone. All of which we prepared for.'
Hale went to the 1-3-1 right away and the Red Raiders struggled, tending to settle for jumpers instead of looking to find the mismatches inside.
'But to our shooters' credit — Maya Walls and Bailey Berlin in particular — those shots went in and kept us in the game,' Hamill said. 'The most disappointing thing in the first half is we didn't match their intensity and tended to not get back on 'D' in time and they got too many easy looks.'
East then pulled away in the second half with a 40-33 advantage.
'We went to a full man, which gave them trouble, and did a better job finding the mismatches in our half court offense vs. their zone,' Hamill said. 'But it was a total battle all the way. West Allis Hale plays hard and has some good athletes. Sam Schuh was hitting her shots — which could have been better contested — and they shot really well from free-throw line.'
The Huskies were 14 for 18 (.778), while Tosa East was only 13 of 23 (.565).
Berlin had 15 points, including three 3-pointers.
'Again Bailey Berlin looked to run the offense and find those open people well,' Hamill said. 'She finished with seven assists. I think we ended up with 17 assists overall. I am very happy about that and so is the team. They know that is key to our success.
'I was really happy with the unselfishness on our end and that led to the balanced scoring attack,' Hamill said. 'I think we are hard to defend — we have multiple offensive weapons and when our perimeter people are seeing the floor well we find scorers.'
Freshman Brooklyn Blackburn had another big game with 14 points, with two 3-pointers.
'Brooklyn Blackburn continues to improve,' Hamill said. 'Sometimes I have to be reminded that she is a freshman. Our expectations are high for her and she is working hard to live up to them. She has so much raw talent and I think she is getting better on the defensive end and recognizing the game situation.'
Walls and Johanna Taylor each added 11 points.
'Johanna has really come along this season too,' Hamill said. 'She is aggressive, wants the ball inside and knows what to do when she has the chance inside on the offensive end. I think her awareness of the game situation and what was needed has shown strong growth from one year ago. Both are dedicated to doing the best they can to help the team game in and game out.'
KellyAnn Sotiros and Alyssa Cruz each had 16 points for Hale, while Schuh had 14.
Hamill was happy with the win, but feels there is room for improvement.
'While there was a lot of room for better play on our part vs. Hale, we kept fighting and didn't put our heads down,' he said. 'Last year that might have been a different story. We're happy for the 'W' and now it's time to prepare for a very similar team.'
The Red Raiders had good balanced scoring in their 50-21 home victory over West Allis Central on Jan. 15.
Tosa East jumped off with a 33-9 run in the first half and any thoughts the last place Bulldogs (0-7, 3-11 overall) had of winning this game went right out the window.
Both offense and defense had a lot to do with the big first half.
'Our kids played very well on the defensive end denying a lot of what Central tried to implement and not allowing second shots,' Hamill said. 'Which was a point of emphasis in our preparation.
'In addition, the early jump shots were going in that allowed us to get out to a quick 12-0 lead. Both Maya and Bailey hit early 3-pointers that gave us some confidence and I think it led us to playing with a high level of confidence.'
Tosa East even had a 5-point advantage in the second half with a 17-12 edge.
Nine players scored between 2 points and 9 points for Tosa East. The Red Raiders were impressive from the free-throw line (. 750) sinking 9 of 12 shots.
Berlin had 9 points and Blackburn and Walls each added 7 and led the way. Sammy Jensen, Taylor and Cora Bilitz each scored 6 points, Mariana Ibanez-Baldor scored 4 points, Chyna Sincere had 3 points and Elizabeth Bueckers had 2.
'It was a good win that we hope can give us a boost going into a very tough stretch of games,' Hamill said.