One bad two-minute stretch proved costly on Jan. 20 for Muskego's boys basketball team.
That's right, 120 seconds just might have been the difference between a Warrior victory or a disappointing loss.
Playing in the biggest game of the season in the final contest of the first round in the highly competitive Classic 8 Conference, Muskego struggled mightily in the middle of the second half for just two minutes. With 10:38 to play, the No. 5 ranked Warriors trailed 17th-ranked Arrowhead by four points at 47-43.
But two minutes later, thanks to a 9-2 run by the Warhawks, Muskego found themselves down by a 56-45 score, and as things played out, the Warriors never recovered and fell to Arrowhead, 80-67. Muskego fell behind by as many as 17 points with 1:24 left to play.
"We didn't play very well for about a five- or six-minute stretch in the second half, and they kind of put it on us," said Muskego coach Andy Capes. "When they got up on us, it's pretty tough to come back. They're just too talented. We missed some layups, and they were making 3s. They were just better than us. They outplayed us and outhustled us. We just have to do a better job. It's that simple."
The loss dropped the two-year reigning conference champions to 5-2 in league play, two games behind undefeated Arrowhead. The Warriors also fell to 10-2 on the season. Mukwonago and Catholic Memorial are next at 4-3.
Despite the loss, Muskego still has the best overall record in the conference the last three seasons at 31-4. Arrowhead is next at 27-8.
There's was more than just that one tough two-minute stretch for the Warriors. From the 11:47 mark of the second half to with just over three minutes to play in the game Arrowhead enjoyed a lopsided 28-13 advantage, turning a 43-40 lead into an eventual 71-53 edge.
"This was a learning experience for some of our young guys," Capes added. "We have to play better than what we did. We'll get back to work and see if we can get better. There's still a lot of basketball to be played."
Muskego was solid in the first half, thanks to a brilliant offensive performance by sophomore guard A.J. Makinen. Makinen scored 14 of his team high 20 points in the first 18 minutes. Makinen also got some help in the first half from sophomore Stuart Vent who scored 9 of his 15 tallies. Both had three 3-pointers in the first half.
Senior Ryan Wikel added 11 points for the Warriors, and senior Luke Horozewski added 8 points to that total.
While Muskego struggled in the second half both offensively and defensively, that wasn't the case in the opening half. The lead changed hands seven times. The Warriors led 14-7 with 10:21 left in the half and then got 3 points from Makinen and an offensive rebound basket from Horozewski with 45.6 seconds to play to tie the game at the intermission at 31-31.
The Warriors couldn't continue that stretch of good basketball in the second half. Arrowhead burned them for 49 points in the second half, led by Alec Hamilton's 15 tallies. Ben Seefeld led the Warhawks with 24 tallies and Hamilton had 17, Marko Matejic 11 and Trevell Cunningham 9.