The New Berlin Eisenhower boys used a big first half run and then fought off a short-handed New Berlin West squad, 67-60, in a Woodland West game Jan. 13 at Ike.
The win improved the Lions record to 6-4, including a 4-3 in conference play. West played without star guard Joe Robey, who is out three to six weeks with a leg contusion. Also limited were shooting guard Zach White (strep throat) and forward Matt Obradovich (high ankle sprain). But the Vikings made it interesting, all the same.
Ike's 17-2 run turned a tenuous 10-0 lead into a 27-11 edge with 3 minutes, 27 seconds left in the first half. Sullivan Kulju had 6 points in that spurt, Matt Rolefson and Max Maier each had 4 points and Bryce Miller had a 3-pointer. The Lions took a 31-17 advantage into intermission, then went on a 7-0 run in the second half for a 38-17 lead with 15:03 to go. The game appeared to be on life support for West.
But the Vikings went on an 11-0 run, sparked by White with 5 points, baskets by Hunter Pipik and Fred Cottrell and two free throws by Tyler Torosian. Eisenhower kept the lead at 10 points before the Vikings cut the lead to 61-59 with 33 seconds left in the game.
Cottrell and freshman guard Desmond Polk each had 6 points in the run. One of Cottrell's basket included a drive to the basket in which he hung in the air, switched hands and scored. Polk also hit two 3-pointers, including one which banked it from the top of the key to make it 60-57.
But the Lions held on, hitting 7 of 8 free throws down the stretch to earn a hard-fought victory.
"It's a good crosstown rival game," Ike coach Dave Scheidegger said. "It's come to be what we respect. It's good for this town. Both schools were represented well. It's a win-win.
"We have to check out the films, but our defense wasn't what we want it to be. They played well. They made shots."
Vikings coach Brandon Mattox said his team's free-throw shooting was a major component in the loss. The Vikings went 14 of 27 at the charity stripe.
"Our free throws just killed us," Mattox said. "But our team hasn't been in a position like that."
Mattox also praised the play of Polk, a 6-3 freshman guard, who led the team with 17 points, two assists and three blocks while filling in for Robey.
"He hasn't been in that position before; I was really happy for him," Mattox said. "Even though we lost, we really dug in in the second half, and I couldn't be more proud of them. We backed off of No. 10 (Sam Hluchnik), and that gave us some help underneath, but Sullivan is a first-team All Conference kid, and he played like it tonight. We doubled down to try and make it tough on him."
Pipik had 12 points and 10 rebounds, and Cottrell had 11 points and 4 rebounds. Kulju had 20 points, and Rolefson had 15.