Pewaukee muscles its way past Greendale
Pewaukee High School presented the musical "Aida" on Friday night in the auditorium adjacent to the school's field house, and though the boys basketball game therein didn't resemble the finesse of a well-choreographed musical, the Pirates earned their encore in the WIAA Division 2 playoffs.
Playing a team that lost by just 3 points to Pewaukee on Feb. 8, the Pirates enjoyed greater comfort this time around, riding a 22-2 run to take a 64-47 victory over Greendale in the second round of the postseason. Pewaukee advanced to face Catholic Memorial at 5 p.m. Saturday in the regional final.
Though junior forward Eric Lutzen was saddled with early foul trouble, and Pewaukee's five 3-pointers were crucial to keeping the team afloat in the first two periods, the Pirates controlled the action for much of the second half.
"We knew even though we beat them twice (during the regular season), those were 2 or 3-point games, so we knew we had our hands full tonight," said first-year Pewaukee coach Mike Basile, procuring his first playoff win at the Pirates' helm. "The kids just beat them in the second half."
Lutzen was whistled for his second offensive foul and third foul overall with just 15 seconds gone by in the second quarter, and Greendale took advantage to grab an 18-15 lead. Ryan Stepanovich, who led Pewaukee with 12 points, hit a 3-pointer with 5:15 to go in the half as the first points in the big run, which put Pewaukee up by a 26-20 count at the break and led into the first 11 points of the second half.
"We just emphasized getting the ball squared up (on a rebound) and looking down the court instead of laterally," Stepanovich said. "(We know) to be calm and know what they're doing and under control from that 1-3-1 trap when we get over halfcourt. We just have to know where we're going with it and have to be controlled."
Pewaukee committed six first-quarter turnovers but just nine in the final three quarters. The Pirates also did not yield an offensive rebound in the second half to the Panthers.
"We had some other guys step up and get some rebounds," Basile said. "I thought we did little things well tonight, like tipping the ball. We seemed to come up with big rebounds. Eric is obviously a big part of our gameplan offensively and defensively; he's the captain and not having him on the floor is a lot different for us. He doesn't seem to run into too much foul trouble over the course of the year, and today wasn't the best day to try that out."
When Lutzen committed his third foul at the 6:45 mark of the second quarter, it was already Pewaukee's 10th foul of the half.
"I think almost all three of our big guys had three (fouls) in the first half," Stepanovich said. "We had to keep our heads. We had everyone rotating in practice for defense, so if we just keep practicing our defense, we can put anyone out there."
Greendale still only made five free throws in the first half, and it was Pewaukee that finished with 31 attempts (though making only 15) to Greendale's 19.
"We've tried different things at practice," Basile said of his team's year-long woes at the charity stripe. "Tomorrow if we shoot 15 of 31, we're going to be in trouble. If we get to the line and they foul and we're not making free throws, we'll be done. The farther you go in the tournament, the more you have to make free throws."
Evan Hansen started for the first time this season, and the sophomore guard showed the poise of a mainstay, finishing with 11 points. Panthers leading scorer Jordan Perez had just eight points, with sophomore guard Josh Michaels scoring 16 to lead the way.
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