Brookfield East seniors key hoops win over Falls
Spartans boys face Milwaukee King on Friday
It was Senior Night on Feb. 14 and Brookfield East's boys basketball team made sure they sent their six seniors out with a victory.
The Spartans beat Menomonee Falls, 47-41, rallying to tie the score (30-30) after three quarters, before taking over in the fourth period.
All of the seniors played a part in the victory.
Jonathan McGinley, East's underrated 6-foot-7 inch center, who spent most of the game pulling down rebounds, sank two free throws with 52.9 seconds to play to give East a 44-41 lead.
Mike Eberle, 6-3 shooting forward, who struggled most of the night before nailing a 3-pointer from deep in the left corner to break a 37-37 tie with 3 minutes, 19 seconds left to play, giving the Spartans a lead they never relinquished.
Leading scorer Mike Novak, a 6-6 forward, put in a game-high 19 points to lead the way, while constantly looking for teammates when double and tripled team. He scored eight of East's 17 points in the final quarter.
Superb point guard Ryan McBride, who handled most of the Falls pressure, scored 12 points, including eight in the third quarter when the Spartans battled back.
Guards Jacob Wiesmueller and Steven Tongas, the former who was East's third-highest scorer with six points, and the latter who continues to be pesky defender, constantly guarding one of the opponents top scorers.
"It was a great feeling," first-year coach and longtime assistant Matt Malett said. "I'm just proud of their effort. I'm proud of their belief. It was really personally gratifying to look at five seniors on the floor winning the game on Senior Night. The game still mattered in the last minute."
Yes it did.
With the score tied at 37, Eberle, who missed every shot he took up until that point, took a pass in the left corner from an alert Novak and drained a 3-pointer to give East a lead for good.
Malett made a prediction at half when he gave the struggling Eberle some advice.
" 'You're going to hit a big shot in the second half. Just keep shooting,' " Malett said. "The looks he got were good; they just weren't falling."
Despite the 0-fer in the first half, Eberle stayed positive and delivered when he had the chance.
"I kept thinking I was going to make it," he said. "Mikey (Novak) passed me the ball, I shot it and it went in. I had a good chance of getting the ball so I was ready for it. I wanted the big shot so I took it."
Then with East holding on to a slim 42-41 advantage, McGinley was fouled with 52.9 seconds left in the game and he drained two free throws, even though he was barely shooting 50 percent from the charity stripe.
"I practice and worry about missing free throws, but coach told me to get a mind-set that I'm going to make those in the games," he said. "So I went up there thinking I'm going to sink both of these and sure enough I did."
Malett was proud of McGinley's performance.
"For Jon, a lot of people don't notice him, but he does do the dirty work," he said. "He pulls down a lot of rebounds. He went up there and the net barely moved. That was gratifying to see that from a senior leader. He just goes up there and takes care of business."
Facing second seed next
The seventh-seeded Spartans travel to second-seeded Milwaukee King on Feb. 22, with the winners playing the next night against the third-seeded Brookfield Central/sixth-seeded Milwaukee Riverside winner.
"We believed in each other all year," Malett said. "We knew we could play at this level. It just took a long time to put it all together. We're finally starting to do that."
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