The Wauwatosa East girls won their final four regular-season games, including wins over Waukesha North and West Allis Central last week, and are ready for postseason action on Friday.
The Red Raiders, who have won 11 of their last 14 games, finished with a 15-7 overall record and a 7-7 record in the Greater Metro Conference to finish fifth.
Coach Rob Hamill is thrilled with his team's play but knows there is more work ahead with the second season here.
'I am proud to say with this win, our squad is the fourth team since 1994, when I first started coaching at East, to reach 15 overall wins,' he said. 'I think the GMC was also particularly tough this season. I think five teams reached the 15-win plateau — not many in the state had that.
'Now it is on to the playoffs to live up to what we earned this season. Lots to play for, lots of work to still do.'
Playoff game Friday
Tosa East is the second seed in the lower bracket — Pius XI is the top seed — and will host Wauwatosa West, who defeated Milwaukee North, 70-29, on Tuesday. The Trojans (4-19) are the seventh seed.
If the Trojans win they will meet the Red Raiders for the second time, having lost the first meeting in a thriller, 45-43, on Jan. 23.
The Red Raiders more than doubled up West Allis Central, 54-26, on Feb. 19 on the road.
After a close first half — East led 24-20 — the Red Raiders clamped down defensively in the second half, outscoring the Bulldogs, 30-6.
'While during the first half, our defense let us down some,' Hamill said. 'It was during the second half that we came to life on the defensive end and did a much better job denying what WAC was trying to do.
'Tori Logan carried the load in the first half by hitting some important shots to keep us competitive.'
Logan, a senior guard, led all scorers with 15 points, while senior guard Bailey Berlin scored 9. Freshman Brooklyn Blackburn and senior Maya Walls each added 7 points; senior Sammy Jensen added 6; junior Johanna Taylor scored 5; and junior Cora Bilitz had 2 points.
Hamill brought up freshman Sydney Halstead for the game, and she scored 3 points.
The Red Raiders' balance pleased him.
'I was especially happy to see balanced offensive scoring,' he said. 'I think that reflects the unselfish play that we had. It really is when we are at our best. I think the same could be said about most any team, but we have multiple offensive weapons, and our players have really developed a sense of who is hitting their shots and getting them the ball.
'When we run our offense through, we usually find a decent shot and have people in position to rebound.'
Tosa East crushed Waukesha North, 74-42, on Feb. 16 in a nonconference road game, winning its third straight game and 10th in 13 tries.
Berlin and Logan combined for 38 points as the Red Raiders blew away the Northstars (0-22) quickly with a 30-14 first half. The second half was a higher scoring game on both sides, 44-28.
'I thought Waukesha North did a lot of things very well,' Hamill said about the winless opponent. 'They played very hard, ran solid offense that gave us quite a bit of trouble in the first half especially. They really are just very young with one senior on a squad of mostly freshman and sophomores.
'It was good to see our squad take better care of the ball in the second half and convert on the opportunities we had. Both Bailey and Tori had good games offensively.'
Despite the win, Hamill knows there is need for improvement.
'We will definitely have to pick it up on the defensive end for the final game of the regular season and focus on taking care of the ball on offense,' Hamill said. 'If we do those things, I think we can go into the postseason on an upswing.'
Bailey led the way with 21 points, while Logan added 17. Blackburn scored 8 points, including 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
Rounding out the scoring were seniors Walls (7 points), Chyna Sincere (5), Angie Mitten (5), Taylor, Elizabeth Bueckers (5) and Jensen (1).
The Red Raiders were 15-for-23 (.652) from the free-throw line, while the Northstars were 6-for-13 (.462).