If you follow Wauwatosa East basketball, it was a familiar script in a 50-36 loss to Milwaukee Washington on March 8 at Waukesha North High School. Fall behind early…rally behind good defense…and lose.
After knocking off top-seeded Milwaukee Samuel Morse-Marshall/Juneau, 59-58, on March 3 to win a regional championship, anything was possible against second-seeded Milwaukee Washington (20-5) in the sectional semifinals.
After a terrible start, possible became impossible.
'Yeah, but we couldn't get over the hump,' said Tosa East coach Tim Arndorfer, whose team outscored Washington, 27-22, in the second half. 'I admired our effort in the second half. It's hard to come back after being down that big.'
Tosa East dug a deep hole, trailing 28-9 at halftime, and their defense tried to get the Red Raiders back in the game, but it is hard to dig yourself out of a deep hole with inconsistent shooting, something they have struggled with all season.
The loss snapped a three-game winning streak in the postseason for the Red Raiders, who finished with a 16-10 overall record. Washington then lost to Pius XI in the sectional championship, 63-55, at West Allis Central on Saturday.
The game was over early as Washington raced to a 17-7 first period lead and then held Tosa East scoreless the final 6:45 of the half. Even though the Red Raiders defense held Washington to 11 second-quarter points, they still trailed by 19 at intermission.
'I would really like to have the first half over again,' a disappointed, drained Tosa East coach Tim Arndorfer said. 'I think all of us would. Give our guys credit; they didn't quit. Give Washington credit; they dictated the tempo of the game.
'It's a three-headed monster. I think four guys scored total and I think two might have had 30 of their 50 points.'
Arndorfer's math was good, depending on the players he was talking about.
Jamaar McKay, a junior wing, led all scorers with 20 points, while Deandre Harris, a senior wing, added 15 and Derek Williams, a senior point guard, added 10 for Washington. Marvin Wynn, a senior guard added five.
'They're good inside, outside,' Arndorfer said. 'They are long, athletic; it starts with defense. That's the biggest thing.'
To Tosa East's credit, they came out and scored nine straight points to open the second half, as senior Zach Sylvester scored the first five and then passed to Nate Moore, who scored on a layup, and a beautiful drive through the paint, cutting the lead to 10 points at 28-18 with 5:59 left in the third period. But that was the closest the Red Raiders came, as the Purgolders held them off the rest of the way.
Just not enough
'We knew we needed stops. We started to put together some baskets,' Arndorfer said. 'Some costly missed free throws, some missed shots (six easy baskets), missed opportunity inside.
'We gave ourselves a chance. That was all we could talk about at halftime. We tried to get it down to something manageable. We did that. But it was just a little too much to overcome.'
Junior forward Kyle Vnuk led the Red Raiders with nine points. He has been a lifesaver for East lately, averaging almost 13 points a game his last three games.