West Allis - The steady improvement continues for the West Allis Hale boys basketball team.
The Huskies downed Milwaukee North, 76-63, on Friday night and Kettle Moraine, 72-57, on Saturday evening to capture the championship of their own holiday tournament.
Hale not only won its tournament for the second straight season but, in improving to 6-4 overall, surpassed last season's entire victory total of five.
Head coach John Palesse was particularly pleased, since the Huskies had been coming off their worst week of the season with losses to Wauwatosa East and Franklin.
"(Last week) was a great one for the Hale team," Palesse said. "I am so proud of our guys, as they bounced back strongly from a tough week. We have been battling illnesses and were real sluggish (the previous week), and after taking a long weekend off, we came back and played great basketball."
Hot from outside
The victory over a solid Kettle Moraine squad (7-4) was especially satisfying.
The Huskies shot a sizzling 55 percent for the contest and a stunning 73 percent from 3-point field goal range. They nailed 11 3-pointers for the game, including seven from Noel Crabtree, who finished with a team-high 24 points.
Derrick Waller added 19 points with a trio of 3-pointers and Arthur Arena put in 14 points as well as pulling down nine rebounds.
"We started out hot and continued our good shooting throughout the entire game," Palesse said. "The key is that we worked together to get good shots."
The Huskies jumped out on top 23-14 after one quarter and were up 42-28 at the half. They never let up in the second half and were able to claim the tournament championship trophy once again.
"Our entire effort was fabulous," Palesse said. "We defended and we rebounded."
Hale put together a balanced effort in beating North (6-4) in the first round on Friday.
Travis Balcerzak led the way with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and four assists, while Crabtree tallied 15 points and seven assists, Arena 14 points and Nick Sotiros 13 points, five assists and five rebounds.
Palesse said Devon Kopet and Steve Acker played key minutes when the Huskies got into foul trouble in the first half.
"We really shared the basketball and worked for layups," he said. "We only took four 3-point shots all night, which showed we took advantage of what was available to us."
Once again, Hale started quickly, rolling to leads of 24-11 after the first period and 39-23 at the half.
"This (tournament) was a great way to go into the New Year," Palesse said.
Hamilton up next
Hale returns to Greater Metro Conference play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at home against Sussex Hamilton (10-0). The Chargers are led by Brady Ellingson at 23.4 points per game.
Hale then welcomes Union Grove at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 8 in a nonconference contest.
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