The Wauwatosa West boys basketball team had its ups and downs on the court, but off the court, the Trojans kept a positive attitude.
The Trojans finished with a 12-11 overall record, while the junior varsity was 13-8 and the freshmen team 13-7, so even more good things are on the way.
'We had our ups and downs all season, close games most of the season, and we won a handful of them and lost a handful of them as well,' coach Chad Stelse said. 'Our togetherness and positive attitudes from everyone on the team kept us moving in the right direction.
'We had some good moments this season but lost some games I felt we could of had as well.'
It took awhile to overcome the loss of last year's seniors.
'We lost 83 percent of our scoring to graduation the year before, and it showed the first few weeks by starting,' Stelse said. 'We started 2-4, which included a couple 2-point losses. But after that rough start, we went 10-7 the rest of the season, highlighted by a five-game winning streak Jan. 15 to Jan. 29.'
West defeated Messmer, 55-43, on Dec. 5 in their first-ever game in the Terry Porter Classic.
They also had a big 24-point nonconference win over Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 78-54, on Dec. 22, and they defeated Pius XI, 46-44, at home on Jan. 15.
One of their biggest wins came over crosstown rival Wauwatosa East, 60-56, on Jan. 23.
'It was a long time coming,' Stelse said, 'but this is the first team to do it in many, many years. We're proud of how we kept battling that game, but how the guys responded once we had the lead and made big free throws when they mattered most.'
Timing was important in an 85-81 win over Whitnall on Feb. 19, right before the seeding meeting, which gave West the fourth seed and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Unfortunately, Milwaukee Morse-Marshall beat the Trojans in their first regional game, 84-70, to end the season on a down note.
'It was a tough ending for us, but Marshall was just better than us that night,' Stelse said. 'They looked stronger, faster and more experienced. Hopefully our guys remember how they took it to us and use it as motivation all off-season. We have a lot of returning guys, so hopefully this experience will show them what it takes to win in the postseason.'
The Trojans gave out three team awards at the annual banquet.
The Toughness Award went to Keegan Schrems, the Most Improved Award went to LaRon Perine and the Steiner Award went to Alou Dillon.
Speaking of Dillon, he earned first-team all-conference honors in the Woodland West and was honorable mention Division 2 All-State.
Two players earned honorable mention: Javaree Jackson and Rayvon Bartlett, Jr.
John Detlaff earned the Academic All-Conference Award.
West will lose four seniors in Schrems, Detlaff, Trevor Powell and Jake Hronek.
But several key players will be returning, including eight juniors, a sophomore and a freshman.
Returning are juniors Dillon, Bartlett, Jr., Jackson, Se'Veon James, Tyrone Powell, Paris Howell, John Frank and Tyler Schackmuth. Also back are sophomore Perine and freshman Marquiss Childs.
'We have a lot of guys returning next season, but so does most of the top teams in our conference,' Stelse said. 'We need to work on all the little things together this summer to accomplish more next season. We need to get stronger and continue to play together to create positive team chemistry on and off the court to make that next step to get to the top part of the conference.
'Our nonconference schedule will be much more challenging, so we have work to accomplish this off-season if we want to accomplish our lofty goals.'