By Dan Truttschel
Late in the first half Friday night, the Westosha Central boys basketball team put together a furious rally to climb right back into the Division 2 regional semifinal with rival Wilmot.
From there, however, the Falcons’ shooting touch went cold.
Central scored on a layup by Luke Millhouse with 1:07 left in the first half, but didn’t score again until midway through the fourth quarter and never recovered in a 68-40 loss.
The Falcons, who finished the year at 8-16 overall, were outscored 29-0 during the game-changing stretch.
Once the ball started rolling downhill, there wasn’t much anybody could do to change it, Central coach Dave Sjong said.
“I thought we got some good looks but could not make a shot from anywhere on the court,” he said. “When a young team falls behind they tend to hurry offense and rush to get into the offense, which led to turnovers.
“Then it became contagious. Layups, pull ups, everything missed, guys started pressing, and we became undisciplined and didn’t get back on defense.”
The game was a tale of two halves, as Central withstood an early Wilmot barrage and rallied within two points at 18-16 late in the second quarter. The Falcons fell behind 18-4 before they scored the next 12.
“We moved the ball and hit some open shots,” Sjong said. “We were able create shots off penetration and guys made them. Some of the same shots we missed in the third.
“We could have packed it in down 18-4, but the kids responded and fought back.”
Sjong credited Wilmot for putting plenty of pressure on his guards, which made it difficult to get the ball inside, where the Falcons had a distinct height advantage.
But he also wasn’t pleased with his team’s overall lack of rebounding, which Sjong said was an even more significant factor in the loss.
Millhouse had 10 points to lead the way, followed by Tyler Stoxen with seven and Glenn Karsten with six.
The loss ended the Central careers of Mike Hall, Steve Bailitz, David Finnemore, Stoxen, Millhouse, Joseph Beach and Chris McCray – and all of them will be missed, Sjong said.
“These seniors never quit playing hard, and I hope the younger levels realize that playing hard and perseverance is how you are now expected to play.”
Falcons drop Elks
Central advanced to the matchup with Wilmot after a 65-54 win over Elkhorn last Tuesday night in a regional opener.
The Falcons built a 33-22 halftime lead, as they controlled most of the action on both ends of the court.
It wasn’t tough to find a key to the win, Sjong said.
“Obviously, us shooting the ball well really helped,” he said. “Also, we rebounded on both ends of the court and made it difficult for them to get wide open looks on the perimeter.”
Ben Graveley led the way with 16 points, followed by Stoxen with 15 and Millhouse with 14, including three 3-pointers.