After splitting games with two Greater Metro Conference contenders last week, the Wauwatosa East boys basketball team had a huge game at first-place Marquette on Tuesday night.
After beating Brookfield Central to start the week, the Red Raiders lost to Sussex Hamilton to end it.
The Red Raiders are two-games under .500 (7-9 overall) going into the MUHS game, tied for fourth place with West Allis Hale (each 5-4). Post-season seeding might be more important right now, depending on how the Red Raiders did against the Hilltoppers, a team they beat, 64-58, on Dec. 18 at East the first time around.
Last week, the Red Raiders got off to a good start at home, defeating Brookfield Central (9-6, 6-3), 67-59, as they kept the Lancers at arms length but couldn't blow them out.
Tosa East led, 28-22, at halftime and then added 2 points to the lead as the teams exchanged baskets in the second half in a game that didn't seem that close.
'We seem to get the lead to 8-10 points, trying to extend it to 8-12, 12-16 points, but we struggle to do that,' East coach Tim Arndorfer said. 'Part of that is fouls. They get 6 points at the line, so they cut into the lead instead of us getting it out to 12-14 points. We have to find ways of limiting teams to fouls and putting them on the free-throw line.'
With 7:53 left in the half, the Lancers led, 14-12, when East went on a 9-0 run to make it 21-14 with 3:46 left in the half.
Senior guard Najee Stewart scored on a drive and then hit a jumper. Senior forward Jai'Vionne Green then hit a 3-pointer and scored on a drive.
East's biggest lead was 11 points at 44-33 with 10:10 left in the game, but then the spread was between 7 and 10 points the rest of the game.
Stewart, who averages 12.4 points a game, led the Red Raiders with 26 points, and Green added 23.
'We're a hard team to beat when we get two guys going like that,' Arndorfer said. 'The best part about it was we were right around the rim; a lot of easy shots. The difference between last time we played them (lost 63-49 on Dec. 11) and this game was we settled for jump shots a lot (in the last game). We did a little better job of getting to the basket. We rebounded well on the defensive boards and limited their second chances.'
Sam Rohde drilled six 3-pointers and led Central with 20 points, Andrew Bruggink added 17 points, including three 3s, and Gage Malensek had 11 points.
After handling one of the two teams in front of them, the Red Raiders took a step back on Jan. 29 against the other.
Sussex Hamilton (6-3, 13-4) defeated Tosa East, 70-61, on Friday night at East, sweeping the series (they won the first meeting at Sussex, 56-45, on Dec. 15).
After a first-half battle left the score tied at 29-29 at intermission, the Chargers took control in the second half, 41-32, and earned the crucial win.
Once again, Tosa East put the opponents on the line for easy points, as the Chargers were 24-for-27. East was an effective 10 of 12, but the quantity wasn't there.
East had four players score 11 to 13 points, led by Stewart with 13 points. D.J. Verser had 11 points, hitting five of six free throws and two 3-pointers. Blake Kratzer added 11 points, and Dane Mikkelson had 11, including three 3-pointers. Green was held to 6 points.
The Raiders will travel to Menomonee Falls at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6.