It has been so long since the Wauwatosa West boys basketball team defeated Wauwatosa East, no one seems to remember when exactly was the last time.
Well you can mark down Jan. 23 because the Trojans rallied to beat the Red Raiders, 60-56, before a screaming, well-behaved sellout crowd on Saturday night at East. Wauwatosa West’s last win over Wauwatosa East was 48-44 in a Woodland Conference game on Jan. 5, 1996.
No matter, non-conference win or not, the game was huge for the Trojans.
“It’s very big,” West coach Chad Stelse said. “When I first started coaching with coach (Brian) Rusk and coach (Mike) Landisch — it is a non-conference game — but it was so frustrating because you can never beat them.
“As a staff (Ed Raue, Ben Veit, Jaron Perry), we have endured a lot of tough losses vs East, none bigger than last March (regional championship). I want to give credit to my whole staff for their continued hard work and dedication to the challenge of getting the most out of our players.
“In particular, coach Ed Raue, who has been on the staff as long as I have. Raue does an outstanding job of preparing our team for upcoming opponents and Saturday night was no different. Coach Raue and our whole staff had our guys prepared to compete for a chance to win.”
West’s leader Alou Dillon, who scored 21 points and 12 rebounds, was thrilled with the win over his crosstown rivals.
“It’s been a long time,” he said. “I’ve been a manager since third grade. Watching West get beat all those years, it was hurting me inside. It feels great, man.”
It looked like the same-old, same-old for the Trojans, who fell behind 21-10 with 9:51 left in the first half, as East went on a 12-2 run. Blake Kratzer hit a 3-pointer after a pass from Dane Mikkelson to start the run at 11:45. Najee Stewart then hit a jumper, Se’Veon James scored on a drive for West, but Cal Rohde scored on a drive, was fouled, but missed the free throw. Stewart scored on a rebound and Mikkelson nailed another 3-pointer.
But the amazing Alou Dillon scored on a rebound of his own missed shot and then drained a jumper and then fed Keegan Schrems for a layup cutting the lead to 21-16. But East extended the lead to 31-22 with 3:14 left, only to see West close out with a 7-1 run, the last coming on the buzzer on a long 3-pointer by Dillon to make it 34-29 at halftime.
Answering the bell
Both teams kept answering runs in the second half as East went up 39-31, but West’s Rayvon Bartlett, Jr. hit 3 of 4 free throws and sophomore LaRon Perine tossed in a 3-pointer and cut the lead to 39-37. But Kratzer answered with a 3-pointer, Ty Ederesinghe hit two free throws and Stewart scored on a rebound to make it 46-37.
But West countered with a drive by Dillon and two free throws each by James and Schrems and East’s James scored basket making it 48-43.
Then the Trojans took control, going on an 11-0 run to take a 54-50 lead.
James passed to Bartlett for a layup, the first of two straight baskets for Rayvon. Dillon then stole the ball and scored and the march to the free throw line started. James and Dillon each dropped in two free throws and James converted 1 of 2.
East’s Kratzer then passed to Ederesinghe for a fast break basket to stop the run, but James hit two free throws, Jai’Vionne Green countered with a rebound score to cut the lead to 56-52. But Marquiss Childs hit 1 of 2 free throws and then stole the ball and scored to make it 59-52 with 35.6 seconds left to play and the Red Raiders long winning streak over the crosstown rival was over.
“We feel that we have some personnel to spread the floor a little bit more and we have some good free throw shooters,” Stelse said. “Once we got the lead, we played smart, spread the court and then we got them in the bonus.”
The Trojans also adjusted their defense.
“Doing the scouting report against East, they were struggling against the zone, until recently,” Stelse said. We felt that was our best option. but give them credit, they made some shots, they got the ball in the middle which we can’t allow. Our effort was better with our man defense. Then once we got the lead we went back to the 2-3. We were better when we put it into play the second time.”
James, who sank 7 of 8 free throws, talked about his performance from the line down the stretch.
“In that situation I’m very confident in the free throws,” he said. “Our whole team wanted this. We haven’t won in years. It was nice to beat them, finally. This is definitely something that can give us a boost. We needed this one BAD.”
With the Red Raiders on a roll and an important week of conference basketball facing them, coach Tim Arndorfer needs his team to bounce back.
“Our defense broke down,” He said. “We gave them too many easy baskets and our offense stagnated again. They took advantage of the foul situation and made their free throws. That tells pretty much the big story. We didn’t execute down the stretch. They did. You’ve got to give them credit for that.”