Lancer boys may have more competition

Published on: 1/25/2012

Look out Brookfield Central boys basketball team, there is another challenger on the horizon - the West Allis Central Bulldogs.

The Bulldogs are 6-2 in the Greater Metro Conference, trailing Brookfield Central (8-0). But they are now tied with Wauwatosa East (6-2) for second place, having nipped the Red Raiders, 60-56, on Tuesday at WAC.  The Red Raiders were out of the game early, but rallied in the second half. It was almost a mirror image of Tosa East's win over the Bulldogs in the GMC opener.

The Red Raiders did play without star guard Anthony (AC) Carroll, who is trying to get a grade situation straightened out ASAP. Zak Sylvester, a 6-2 forward, will also be out after right knee surgery for 3-4 weeks.

Whereas all the focus this year has been on the Lancers and Red Raiders, I think perhaps the most talented team in the league - certainly the most athletic - could be West Allis Central.

I have bow seen the Bulldogs (10-4 overall) twice this year - Dec. 2 and Tuesday - and they have an amazing amount of talent and are fun to watch.

The Red Raiders won the first meeting, 59-56, but seemed to have had the game in hand at halftime, 35-23, using a 23-point first period. But the Bulldogs outscored Tosa East, 33-24, in the second half and had the Red Raiders hanging on for life at the end of the game.

I remember when the Bulldogs walked on the floor for warm-ups back in December, I though Tosa East was in trouble. Why? Because the Bulldogs looked athletic, they could jump and they were swishing long jump shots from all over the floor.

The Bulldogs are led by 5-foot-11 inch point guard Jarvis Garrett, a second-team all-GMC performer last year, who is averaging 14.2 points per game.

Najeal McMillian, a 6-5 senior forward who is averaging 11.2 points per game, could be the best player I have seen this year.

Tonnie (pronounced Tony) Collier is a 6-9 senior forward, averaging 9.6 points per game, who scored 25 points inside on Tuesday.

I felt these guys were the most impressive-looking warming up that night.

They are the Bulldogs' top scorers, but they are only the tip of the iceberg.

Darvell Brown, a 6-3 senior forward (8.5) and Ron Turkvan, a 6-0 sophomore guard (6.3) were an athletic combination that gave Tosa East trouble.

But perhaps the player with the best future is Brandon Key, a 5-11 freshman point guard (7.3), who was sensational all night.

Except for Brown, who has played in 11 games, the other five have played in all 12 of the Bulldogs games coming into this week. No one else has played in more than three games.

The Bulldogs problem has been consistency. When they played good defense, their press is hard to beat - ask the Red Raiders. When they are forced into a half-court game things can go a few ways.

If they are playing well, no problem with this type of talent.

If they aren't playing well, they can shoot 3-pointers and use their outstanding athletic ability to grab rebounds and turn them into putbacks.

But if they aren't playing well in the half-court and the other team boxes out well, they can be beaten.

Besides the loss to Tosa East, they have dropped games to Homestead (62-55), Brookfield Central (53-49) and Marian Catholic of Illinois (66-62). They did get blown away by Menomonee Falls (66-47), but turned that into a win when the Indians forfeited for using an illegal player.

The only loss that was questionable was the loss to the Indians, but it was an emotional night because JP Tokoto set the school scoring record. But the fact is, the Indians are a team with only two good players - Tokoto and CJ Malone - and the Bulldogs shouldn't have gotten crushed like that.

They have a new coach in Dave Mlachnik, who moved over from the girls' side. There is always an adjustment with a new coach.

Keep your eye on the Bulldogs. They impressed me again on Tuesday night.