West Allis - After waiting 33 years for a conference championship, the West Allis Central boys basketball team wasn't about to share it with anyone.
The Bulldogs dispatched Brookfield East, 55-44, on Feb. 23 to claim sole possession of the Greater Metro Conference crown at 12-2, one game ahead of Brookfield Central (11-3). They won their final 10 GMC games after a 2-2 start to catch and pass the Lancers.
Central, which also defeated Destiny, 80-68, on Feb. 21, closed the regular season on an eight-game winning streak and has won 13 of 14 contests, with its only loss coming to Marian Catholic of Illinois.
Coach David Mlachnik's team enters WIAA Division 1 regional play this week at 17-4 overall. The Bulldogs received a first-round bye and will play Brookfield East again at 7 p.m. March 2 at the Central field house.
If they win, they could play at second seed Milwaukee Vincent at 7 p.m. March 3 for the regional crown and a trip to a sectional semifinal game at home at 7 p.m. March 8.
Mlachnik is a bit wary about taking on Brookfield East for the third time this season. The Bulldogs swept the Spartans, but both games were relatively close (58-50 and 55-44).
Right now, though, he is just taking plenty of pride in their GMC championship.
"The kids did a good job all year," said Mlachnik, who is in his first year as boys coach after directing the Central girls team the past few seasons. "We wanted to get better each day, and the kids did a great job of taking it one day at a time, one practice at a time. We had good leadership and a number of guys stepped up."
He said he will enjoy seeing this year added to the boys championship banner, which has not changed since 1979.
"It's been a lot of fun for the students, the staff at school and the community," he continued, "and it's been great for the kids themselves."
While most preseason predictions had Brookfield Central and Wauwatosa East at the top in the GMC, Mlachnik thought all along the Bulldogs had a shot at the title.
"The kids bought into (my system) quickly," he said. "The key was how quickly we would come together. The kids had to know what I expect, and I had to get to know them."
In the finale against East, Jarvis Garrett led the way with 21 points, including four 3-point field goals, but he received plenty of help. Tonnie Collier, who has been on a tear in the last few weeks, put in 11 points, while Darvell Brown added 10, Najeal McMillian seven and Josh Neary six.
Central was up by just 37-36 after three quarters but outscored East 18-8 in the fourth period.
Collier tallied 28 points and Garrett 20 against Division 4 Destiny on Feb. 21. Brandon Key chipped in with 10 points for the Bulldogs, who were perfect from the line at 14 of 14 and built a 42-20 halftime margin.
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