No one could remember the last time Wauwatosa West defeated New Berlin Eisenhower at Ike, and after Tuesday night, it still hadn't happened. But close.
The Lions won a sloppily played game, 59-56, holding off the Trojans when Alou Dillon's three-quarter court shot in the final seconds missed the mark. In the first half and the beginning of the second half, the officials let both teams play physically, and then suddenly, turned the game into a free-throw contest down the stretch.
The win moved Eisenhower into a second-place tie with Tosa West and Pius XI, all 2-1, behind first-place Pewaukee (3-0). Ike plays at Pewaukee on Friday, while the Trojans host the Popes.
"This has always been a tough place to play," Tosa West coach Chad Stelse said. "It's almost been like a mental hurdle. Some of the guys have experienced that, kind of like a Tosa East thing, when we finally beat them last year. I would compare it to that.
"I was optimistic coming into tonight, but we just didn't flat out play well. We shot 39 percent from the field and only 4 for 22 from the 3-point line. That was the worst we shot, but that was the best defensive team we played so far. Got to give them credit there. They made us take tough shots."
Stelse said he felt a game at this pace favored the Lions.
"I felt, unfortunately, if the game was going to be in the 50s, it favored them without a doubt," he said. "We needed to dictate the tempo. We needed to get back on 'D.' We needed to continue to push.
"But then it turned into more of a slow down game with all the fouls. It was their type of game. Sloppy, defensive minded, and they get the 'W.'"
Tosa West turned the ball over 23 times, frequently with unforced errors.
Eisenhower Dave Scheidegger had a different view of the contest.
"We don't really focus on records, we focus on the level of play, standards of the performance that have been set by so many classes that we here before," Scheidegger said. "We have all new guys that are responsible for the outcome of the game. We're learning accountability. It's not that easy of a thing. They have five guys that were here last year, so they have like 30 games together. We're going to go up and down a little bit. We've seen that already."
Bryce Miller had 13 points, Bryce Wesling and Matt Rolefson had 12 points each and Sullivan Kulju had 11 in the Lions' balanced scoring effort. Dillon led all scorers with 15 points.
With the score tied at 37-37 with 12:32 left in the game, Wesling hit a jumper, Rolefson hit a lay-up and a free throw, Miller nailed a 3-pointer and Max Meier scored on a drive for a 47-37 lead, and the Trojans came close but never led again.
Seven of West's final nine points and 10 of the Lions' last 12 came from the free-throw line.