The Wauwatosa West boys basketball team knocked off two teams from the Woodland Conference East Division last week and improved their record to 9-6 overall and 5-5 in the West standings.
The wins gave them five in a row going into this week.
'We felt we could put together a little winning streak, and we have done that,' West coach Chad Stelse said. 'We need to build on this momentum.'
West began last week with a 79-74 win at Shorewood of the Woodland Conference East on Jan. 26, their fourth straight victory.
After jumping off to a 16-point lead at halftime, 50-34, the Trojans saw the Greyhounds come back in the second half (40-29) and make a game of it.
'We couldn't pull away from them at the beginning of the second half, giving them confidence that they could make a run in the second half,' Stelse said. 'Their back court of (Mikael) Green and (DeAndre) Anderson gave us trouble all night. We didn't do a good job of stopping their penetration, and our help defenders didn't step up aggressively enough to contain their dribble drive.'
The Trojans, who were playing not to lose down the stretch, did put enough together to hang on for the win.
'Offensively, we tried to pull them out of their zone, but then we committed some careless turnovers, and then we started to play passive,' Stelse said. 'Down the stretch, we played not to lose instead of playing to win.
'But in the end, particularly the last 3 minutes, we made just enough plays to get the job done. Marquiss Childs made some big plays for us to extend the lead. He broke the defense down three possessions in a row and found cutters to extend the lead for us.'
Sophomore guard LaRon Perine led the way with 20 points, getting three of the team's eight 3-pointers. Juniors Javaree Jackson had 15 points, Se'Veon James had 14 and Rayvon Bartlett, Jr. added 12.
'LaRon continues to work hard in practice and has earned extended playing time, and he sure took advantage of it tonight,' Stelse said. 'When LaRon starts feeling it, he can score in bunches, and we saw it for the first time in varsity action. He can shoot, and he is always active. He has a nose for the ball, and he delivered tonight.'
Junior Alou Dillon, West's leading scorer (19.9 points-per-game average), was held to 7 points.
The Trojans got to the free-throw line 31 times and sank 21 (.677). Shorewood only managed 12 of 23 (.522).
Then on Friday, the Trojans hosted South Milwaukee and came away with their fifth win in a row, a 50-40 decision.
'It wasn't the prettiest of games from both teams,' Stelse said. 'But I feel that both teams played hard, tough defense for most of the game. Before the game, we stressed the importance of pushing the ball and getting up and down. We didn't do that. I was disappointed that South Milwaukee dictated the tempo, but in the end we pulled away down the stretch with smart, aggressive ball on both ends.'
West led only 26-23 in the first half but added to the spread with a 24-17 second-half advantage.
The Trojans led the way by getting three players in double figures.
Dillon scored 16 points, which included two 3-pointers, while Jackson managed 12 and Bartlett, Jr. scored 10. The Rockets' Danny Pusheck scored 11, the only player on his team in double figures.
The Trojans struggled from the free-throw line (.454), sinking 10 of 22 shots.
'When we are playing with constant energy, utilizing our size and playing together, we have a chance to beat anyone we play,' Stelse said. 'Our schedule get tougher from here. I'm looking forward to seeing how we respond.'
The Trojans played Feb. 2 at Greendale and travel to New Berlin West on Friday, Feb. 5. Then they host Pewaukee on Tuesday, Feb. 9, with both games at 7:30 p.m.