East Inch Closer to Sussex Hamilton with Much-Needed Win Against Central

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East Inch Closer to Sussex Hamilton with Much-Needed Win Against Central

Michael Poker (11) assures the East crowd after Central makes a basket.

Michael Poker (11) assures the East crowd after Central makes a basket.

Ali Riaz

Michael Poker (11) assures the East crowd after Central makes a basket.

Ali Riaz

Ali Riaz

Michael Poker (11) assures the East crowd after Central makes a basket.

David Turicek, Writer

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After a grueling defeat earlier in the season, Brookfield East was hoping to tie their season record against Brookfield Central at one a piece on a snowy Tuesday night in January. As we get closer and closer to the WIAA State Tournament, it has become pivotal for teams to be at the top of their game. For the Lancers, guard Gage Malensek (12) and center David Joplin (10) were going to be the leaders that would have to continue their exceptional form. And for the Spartans, it would be forward Riley LeTourneau (12) and guard Thomas Francken (12) hoping to spark an upset of their opposing rivals.

With Sussex Hamilton as the looming leader of the Greater Metro Conference, this game was important for both sides to inch closer to their undefeated record.

Based on the previous matchup, most fans were expecting another blowout win for the Lancers. That didn’t stop the hundreds of away fans from piling into the Lancer Fieldhouse to support their team. As both teams entered for warm ups, the seriousness on the Spartans’ faces was evident. They knew that this would be one of the most important games of the season.

LeTourneau has recently won Journal Sentinel’s Sports Athlete of the Week for his 30+ point performances and absolute domination in the Greater Metro Conference. With this reputation, it was going to be up to him whether the Spartans were going to battle the Lancers. Luckily, LeTourneau and his crew came ready.

Right away, the Spartans took an early lead and didn’t look back. Brookfield East was shooting lights out on the court, using pristine ball movement to ensure open opportunities. The Lancers were having a tough time making their shots and keeping up with the pace of their opponents.

Aggressive and effective defensive tactics for the Spartans forced many turnovers and gave them a number of fast break points to cushion their lead. The first 15 minutes of the game were pure domination for the Spartans. They held a lead greater than 10 and were feeding LeTourneau down low at the post, who, despite being guarded by the 6’6” Joplin, was able to use his strength to secure a number of points in the paint.

Even though there was a small comeback by the Lancers in the final few minutes of the half, the Spartans held on to a 10 point lead at halftime.

Coming out of halftime, it became quite obvious what the game plan for the Lancers was: to feed Joplin down low and use his height to score over defenders and utilize the range of Malensek and Cole Nau (12). Right off the bat, the Lancers gave it to Joplin in the paint;  however, the intelligence of the Spartan defenders successfully closed in on Joplin and forced a turnover—ultimately showing the Lancers that their plan was not going to work against them that day.

The Spartans continued to feed LeTourneau in the paint and he again used his strength to bank in a contested two. His consistent presence as one of the Spartans “big men” has been crucial for the team’s success in the past few weeks. Seeing his dominance against a top-notch team proves the notion that LeTourneau is for real.

With about 10 minutes to go, the Spartans knew they had a heavy lead and that they could not let their foot off the gas pedal, considering the talent they were up against. Despite their effort, three pointers started falling for the Lancers. Sometimes it would be Nau hitting one from behind the arc and most of the time, it was Malensek.

Even with a defender in his face, Malensek, as talented as he is, was able to hit a number of threes. Due to sequence of succesful baskets, the Spartans started to milk the clock, again using tactics to their advantage. Ball movement was the only thing they needed to do in order to finish off the Lancers.

Even though it was closer at some points in the second half, the Spartans defeated the Lancers 66-57. LeTourneau finished with 28 points to lead the Spartans to a significant victory over their cross-town rivals. Makensek’s 23 points was not enough for the Lancers.

Among the jeers towards the end of the game by the Brookfield East student section, there was a unifying chant from the Brookfield Central section that may have made the entire crowd def. On the other side of the gymnasium was a “Snow day!” chant that only grew louder and louder.

Even though they were supporting the opposing team, the Brookfield East student section added to the chant with hundreds of students making their opinion known to the Principal Farley, who was standing just a few feet from them. Such a display of comradery ensured that the game didn’t end on a sour note.

In the end, Brookfield East improves to 6-3 in conference and 10-3 overall whereas Brookfield Central falls to 7-2 in conference and 11-2 overall. The Spartans next matchup is on Friday, January 25th, against the top-of-the-standings powerhouse, Sussex Hamilton. If Brookfield East were to perform the way they did against Brookfield Central in this game, it would not be that surprising to see them win on Friday.

Player of the Match

  • Riley LeTourneau- Brookfield East, Senior (28 points)

Other Notable Performances

  • Gage Malensek – Brookfield Central, Senior (23 points)
  • Cole Nau – Brookfield Central, Senior (15 points)
  • Thomas Francken – Brookfield East, Senior (12 points)
  • Michael Poker – Brookfield East, Junior (11 points)
  • David Joplin – Brookfield Central, Sophomore (10 points)
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