Injury-riddled Brookfield East boys basketball team falls to Tosa East in conference opener
But senior Ryan McBride delivered a gutsy performance after getting injured
It was a typical Brookfield East-Wauwatosa East boys basketball game. Knockdown, drag 'em, defensive battle, not pretty to watch.
In the end, though, Tosa East came alive on the boards and used a 16-2 run in the third and fourth quarter to rally for a 41-36 victory at home.
The Spartans, who are playing without star guard/forward Brian Smith (ankle) and big Mike Nowak (elbow), lost point guard Ryan McBride with 5 minutes, 32 seconds left in the first quarter.
However, McBride returned with 2:45 left in the period after having his ankle worked on. While he limped around most of the game playing on one leg, that didn't stop the gutsy senior from driving into traffic, only to end up on the floor after a foul was called.
Then to make matters worse, Jacob Wiesmueller, East's top 3-point shooter, and 6-foot-7 Jonathan McGinley spent the night running in and out of the lineup in foul trouble.
"It was a game of runs," Spartans coach Matt Malett said. "You try to minimize theirs and maximize ours and they got us when it counted. We're hobbled, but nobody feels sorry for us. The Greater Metro Conference isn't going to feel bad for us. They are going to try to go for the jugular when they can.
"We scrapped, but we had 14 offensive rebounds given up. That's not going to win in this conference."
Spartans fall behind
The Tosa East big men took over in the second half, with big Derrick Hurt collecting the rebounds and Ben Mihelich and Kyle Vnuk providing the scoring.
With the Spartans leading 26-18 with 5:24 left in the third quarter, Vnuk hit a 3-pointer, Hurt dropped in 1-of-2 free throws and Vnuk and Mihelich scored before Brookfield East's Steven Tongas scored on a beautiful reverse layup to make it 28-26 after three.
But the Red Raiders weren't through, as Mihelich opened the final period with a basket and a free throw, Hurt had a putback shot and Ben Carpenter nailed a 3-pointer to end the 16-2 run that put Tosa East up, 34-28.
A steal and a basket and a free throw by Wiesmueller and two free throws by McBride cut the lead to 36-33 with 35 seconds left before the game turned into a free throw contest in the final 30 seconds.
The Red Raiders had a big advantage at the free throw line going 15-for-21. The Spartans finished 7-for-8.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," Tosa East coach Tim Arndorfer said. "It always is with Brookfield East. Even with a limited roster, Matt has them playing fundamentally well; smart basketball. We were pretty flat in the first half, especially on offense. At halftime we said our defense has to help our offense, which I think it did in the second half."
Tongas gets the job done
The Red Raiders' pressure defense during their big run took advantage of the short-handed Spartans.
"I think so," Arndorfer said. "With a limited bench you're going to wear down. We wanted to come out endline to endline in the second half, hopefully wear them down, cut the lead and then see what happens in the fourth."
Mihelich led all scorers with 15 points, while Wiesmueller had 13 in limited minutes.
One of the reasons the Spartans stayed in the game is the job Tongas did on Tosa East star Nate Moore, who was averaging 22 points coming into the game and finished with three. Tongas took over when McBride was injured.
"They are a great team and I wanted someone to key on him and Steven Tongas did a great job on him," Malett said. "Ryan guarded him at the beginning, but then with the injury that just wasn't going to happen. We thought that was a solid formula to stop him, but they had other guys step up. No. 50 (Hurt) just killed us on the boards - he more than anybody was the X-factor."
McBride has coach's respect
But the big story in the game was McBride, who played most of the game on one leg.
"He's a senior that wants it badly," Malett said. "He's one of the toughest kids around. No one can question his toughness. I applaud him for his effort. So much of our offense is dependent on him. When he's hobbled and the other team sees that they try to exploit that a little bit."
Arndorfer also praised the Spartan senior point guard.
"What impresses me most is he's always in control," Arndorfer said. "He never forces anything. He's a true team player. I think he's a guy who makes everyone else on his team better. Those are hard guys to find.
"And the great performance he put on especially after going down with that ankle, says something about his heart. He's a special player."
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