Wauwatosa East senior wing Sean Wheeler stood on the free throw line at Shorewood with 2.6 seconds left holding the Red Raiders' chances to advance in the playoffs, as well as the basketball, in his hands.
With Tosa East trailing in a hard-fought barnburner, 49-48, Wheeler had been fouled driving to the basket. He calmly sank two free throws and gave the Red Raiders a 50-49 upset win over Shorewood in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs.
Suddenly hot Tosa East won its fourth straight game to improve its record to 9-14. The Red Raiders now play at second-seed Whitefish Bay on Friday.
The Red Raiders led 13-11 after one quarter and then held the Greyhounds to one basket in the second quarter to take a 21-13 halftime lead.
Both offenses showed up in the second half, however, as Shorewood outscored Tosa East, 36-29, taking the game down to the wire.
Shorewood sohomore Te’Jon Lucas, who was averaging 18.3 points per game, was held to nine points by East sophomore Bryce Beekman.
But Lucas scored with 2:49 left in the game on a driving layup to tie the game at 45-45. He then hit two free throws to finish a 13-0 run for the Greyhounds to make the score 47-45 with 2:21 left in the game.
East's Drue Holley hit a free throw to snap the streak, and then Caleb Taylor, who led all scorers with 16 points, put back his own missed shot with 57 seconds left to play to give East a 48-47 lead.
Lucas twice hit one of two free throws at 38.4 seconds and 24.6, giving Shorewood a 49-48 lead. Tosa East called timeout with 10.8 seconds left, but Shorewood coach Phil Jones countered with a timeout of his own.
East worked the ball to Wheeler on the right side, he drove baseline and was fouled with 2.6 seconds left to play. He sank both shots cleanly and the Greyhounds didn’t come close on a desperation shot.
“We got the right call at the right time,” said East coach Tim Arndorfer, who wasn’t pleased with roughhouse play the officials allowed. “Sean struggled from the line this year, but he couldn’t have come up with two bigger shots at a bigger time.”
Wheeler was hoping to drive and pass the ball off when he was double teamed, but it didn’t happen.
“So I just got aggressive and went to the basket. It was something special for the seniors. It kept our season alive.”
Arndorfer was also pleased to see another day.
“This time of the year is about surviving, and as long as we got one more point than they did, I don’t care how we did it.”