The Wauwatosa East boys got off to a slow start, and then with 12 minutes left in the first half ran Messmer out of the gym, winning their WIAA Regional quarterfinal game, 73-49, at Tosa East.
The win improved the Red Raiders record to 11-12 and they will travel to Whitefish Bay (13-9) to take on the Blue Dukes of the North Shore Conference at 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, in a WIAA Regional Semifinal game. The win was the third in a row for coach Tim Arndorfer's crew and fourth in the last five outings.
Junior Kendrick McGahee, who scored a game-high 16 points, scored 6 points as the Bishops jumped out to a 10-7 lead with 12 minutes, 17 seconds left in the first half. But then the Red Raiders, who missed several layouts and gave Messmer several second chances, came to life.
First they went on an 11-0 run, as junior Blake Kratzer hit senior Ty Ederesinghe with a pass on a fast break layup. Then junior Dane Mikkelson scored off a pass from Ederesinghe. Senior Jai'vionne Green stole the ball and scored, and then Mikkelson stepped back and drilled a 3-pointer from the top of the key and East took an 18-10 lead.
And that was just the beginning.
After McGahee hit a free throw to stop the run, Green countered with two free throws and senior DJ Verser stole the ball and scored. Senior Najee Stewart took over and hit two free throws in the bonus situation, took a pass from Kratzer and scored on a fast break and then scored on another fast break. Junior Sam Rutkiewicz scored on a beautiful drive to the basket and Ederesinghe nailed a 3 to finish off a 15-1 run.
Do the math. Two runs totaled 26-1 and this game was over as Tosa East took a 34-15 lead into halftime.
'Defensively we got off to a slow start, taking pretty quick shots. They lull you to sleep offensively and then hit the boards,' Arndorfer said. 'We can't let that happen. For the most part we made them work for their shots for an extensive period of time. Once we got able to get out and run and get into transition, our press was pretty effective after a while.'
The teams exchanged baskets in the second half (39-34) and Arndorfer had a chance to rest his starters and get everyone into the lineup.
Stewart and Green had 14 points each, while Ederesinghe and Mikkelson had 9 each and eight others scored between 2 and 5 points.
Bay is next up.
'They have two terrific scorers at the guard spots,' Arndrofer said. 'It's going to be a challenge. We'll show up.'