Over the previous five contests, the Pewaukee boys basketball team had outscored its opponents by an average of 15.2 points in the second half. On Jan. 15, New Berlin Eisenhower made sure that trend stopped.
The Lions (12-0) more than reaffirmed their place as Wisconsin's top team in Division 2 with an overwhelming 77-49 win over powerful Pewaukee, which won its first 10 games of the season before falling to Greendale last week. Eisenhower now has a full two-game lead in first place of the Woodland West Division standings through seven league games.
Eisenhower scored the first 9 points out of halftime and hit 11 of its first 13 shots out of the break to build an insurmountable lead.
'The composure was the big thing we stressed,' Eisenhower coach Dave Scheidegger said. 'This is a big rivalry game in all sports. I thought our kids were mentally tough and responded very well.'
Jordan Canady caught fire to open the second half, scoring 7 straight points and 9 straight overall, counting the final basket of the first half. He finished with 15, while Stephen Kraninger led the way with 19 points. Five Lions players reached double figures, a fact that underscored the team's season-long balance.
'It's a good statement win for sure,' Canady said. 'We went into the second half with the mentality that we always start 0-0, no matter what the score is. We noticed they were coming with a little pressure, so we could just drive it and kick it.'
Eisenhower didn't stop with the 13-0 run that spotted it a 39-22 lead. In the second half, the Lions outscored the Pirates, 47-27.
Best in state
'They run their offense better than anyone in the state,' said Pewaukee coach Mike Basile. 'They're able to run their offense; a lot of them have been doing it since grade school. They had bigs that hurt us in the post, and they had shooters we were deathly afraid of. We didn't have an answer for any of it.'
Matt Rolefson finished with 11 points, with Sullivan Kulju and Jack Sirek posting 10 apiece.
Pewaukee made its best move late in the first half, rattling off 8 straight points to pull within 26-22 a the 2:22 mark before halftime. Wyatt Cook (team-best 11 points) handed out two long assists in that stretch, including one after a lunging save on the other end by Redmon Wallace.
But with top-two scorers Aidan Nordquist and Alex Clement restricted to 7 points apiece, Pewaukee didn't have the firepower to match when Eisenhower bit back.
'We've tweaked the system as we've gone through the years, but it's kind of been the same philosophy, offense and defense, the last whatever (number of years) we've been there,' Scheidegger said. 'We teach the same fundamentals and concepts regardless of who's there.'
Two in row
For Pewaukee, it was the second straight Woodland West loss after a close setback to Greendale one week earlier, when a furious second-half rally wasn't enough.
'Losing to Greendale, you could see we kind of lost a little of what I like to call our swagger, with toughness in practices,' Basile said. 'I don't know if that carried over into this week. It's disheartening that we didn't have a better week of prep.'