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Defending champs open playoffs on strong note

March 7, 2014

In a hard-fought game, it's often what comes easy that can make the difference.

Host Milwaukee Riverside (14-9) hounded the Brookfield East girls basketball guards throughout the night and created enough turnovers and easy baskets to guide the Tigers past the Spartans, 53-36, in a WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal Friday.

Following a slow start that saw the Tigers struggle to connect from the outside, Riverside seized control behind an 11-2 run powered by the scoring of junior Amani Wilborn and sophomore Alona Johnson, who each scored seven points in the first half.

Sophomores Angela Pichler and Mariah Miller kept Brookfield East (9-14) within striking distance in the first half as the Spartans kept the ball moving to avoid traps and double teams on the ball.

However, a halftime adjustment by the Tigers to shadow Pichler full-court and force other Spartans to bring the ball up led to some indecision and costly turnovers that helped Riverside pull away late.

Three consecutive steals by Wilborn and Johnson, including two in the backcourt that led directly to layups, helped push Riverside to a 34-27 lead after three quarters.

Riverside turned up the pressure even more in the fourth quarter, outscoring Brookfield East, 19-9, behind Wilborn and sophomore Tianna Fudge, who chipped in 10 points, most of which came in the final 8 minutes. Wilborn and Johnson each finished with 16 points to pace the Tigers.

"Defensively, we executed just how we hoped to. We just couldn't score the ball," Brookfield East coach Michael Goodman said. "Our girls were slow to attack when they started to pick up full court, and we looked for Pichler a little bit too much."

Miller finished with 13 points to lead Brookfield East, while Pichler added nine for the Spartans.

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