The Falcons climbed the first step on the WIAA playoff ladder March 3 with a 67-43 regional semifinal victory over visiting Muskego, earning coach Kent Kroupa his 300th career win.
Whitnall went into the contest without leading scorer Bryan Stave, who had the flu, but shot out to a 19-7 first-quarter advantage and never trailed thereafter.
The Warriors, who won just three of 20 regular-season games, were competitive early on and trailed by just four, 32-28, entering halftime.
But the Falcons extended their lead to 51-41 through three quarters, then opened the final period with a 9-2 run keyed by Jake Lehmann to put the game away.
"No. 1, this was a tournament game that we needed and got," Kroupa said. "We really showed that we are a team to win without Bryan Stave, who was the player of the year in our division.
"We were in a one-and-done situation, like everyone else in the state, Our kids played well, but we'll have to take better care of the ball against Case Saturday than we did tonight."
Lehmann and William Pelkofer scored 15 points apiece to lead a balanced Whitnall attack. Josh Pelkofer contributed 13 points and Jack Rivera nine for the Falcons (16-5).
Ethan Layer scored 13 points, Nick Hirsch eight and D.J. Mlachnik seven for Muskego, which finished 3-18.
- Mark Hutchinson,
A hot second half, particularly from Alex Kingsley, boosted the Bulldogs to a 56-42 triumph over the Hustlin' Hawks in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal March 3.
The Hawks, who finished 10-11, held a 21-17 edge early in the third period on a basket by Iyad Assad.
Bobby Gnatzig drove for a three-point play, then Kingsley tallied seven straight points with a drive, a short hook shot and a 3-point goal to put Central ahead, 27-21.
"I think we just settled down and relaxed," Central coach Mike Jossie said. "Our defense created our offense more in the second half. Alex had a great run, creating some stuff for us."
Kyle McDaniel brought Greenfield within 27-26 with a 3-point shot to open the fourth period, but Central responded with a 10-2 run for a 37-28 advantage and never let the Hawks get any closer than six points after that.
The Bulldogs clinched the victory by making 23 of 27 free throws in the fourth period and finished with 27 of 33 at the line.
"I thought this was one of our more fundamentally-sound games of the season," Jossie said. "We didn't live or die by the 3-ball. We found other ways to score and made a solid effort to put the ball in the post."
Ben Hart led Central with 19 points. Kingsley tallied 14 (all in the second half) go to with four assists and just one turnover. Gnatzig added 10 points and Ryan Ford six.
For Greenfield, McDaniel totaled 17 points, including 13 in the fourth period, Alec Molter 10 and Assad eight.
"I thought we forced some shots in the second half," Hawks coach Jim Nowak said. "In the first half, we really worked the ball high-low, but we just forced too many things in the second half."
West Allis Central
Coach Mike Jossie knew a huge task faced his team in a WIAA Division 1 regional final at Racine Horlick on March 7.
The Rebels came in at 19-1, with their only loss to a strong out-of-state team, and had two of the better area players in Jamil Wilson and Antwon Oliver.
The Bulldogs hung in the game but the Rebels came away with a 67-51 victory.
"We knew we had to value the possession, box out well and hope they (the Rebels) would at times have a below-average afternoon of shooting," Jossie said. "The latter was not the case."
Oliver finished with 25 points and Wilson 16. "I came away more impressed with how Oliver played than (Wilson)," the coach said. "The combination of Oliver and Wilson is hard to beat in this state."
Jossie said Central played hard but was hurt by lapses at the end of the first three quarters.
Bobby Gnatzig got into foul trouble, but Ryan Ford picked up some of the slack with a team-high 11 points.
Gnatzig finished with nine points, Derwin George eight and Matt Neary seven as Central closed the season at 10-12.
"I respected these kids before the game," Jossie said, "but I probably walked out of the gym with more admiration than I had before because they gave me everything they had."
West Allis Hale
The Huskies dropped their WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal game to Racine Park, 68-58, March 3.
As has happened often this season, a slow start cost them as they trailed, 51-26, at the half.
Taylor Chladek totaled 20 points, Dan Wall 14 and Ben Rachow 12 for Hale, which knocked down seven 3-point goals.
The Huskies, having to rebuild their entire starting lineup this season, wound up 0-21. They improved on offense as the season went on but struggled on defense the entire way.
Hale loses seniors Wall, Grant Scaife, Ben Sidesky, Brian Otto, Josh Van Every, Thomas Ayling and James Ali-Carr, but returns a number of players who gained some valuable experience this year, such as juniors Chladek, Rachow and Josh Riche.
John Rech, Staff Writer
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