Once the Brookfield East girls basketball team was able to set up its pressure defense, the Spartans became too much for Wauwatosa East.
Overwhelming the Red Raiders with full-court pressure, Brookfield East forced 19 turnovers and pulled away for a 63-37 victory over Tosa East in its Greater Metro Conference opener on Dec. 2.
"That's what we aim to do with most teams," Brookfield East coach Michael Goodman said. "Some teams handle the ball a little bit better, but we like to call our full-court pressure 'wreaking havoc' modeled after (coach) Shaka Smart at VCU and Texas. Once we got some balls in the hoop, we could press and create some turnovers."
After a back-and-forth start to the game, the Spartans began to pull away late in the first half. A 3-pointer by Emma Ralfs with 6:26 to play in the half started a 12-3 run that put Brookfield East up, 25-17, at the break.
The Spartans (3-1, 1-0 Greater Metro) carried the momentum over, opening the second half on a 10-2 spurt to open up a double-digit lead they would not relinquish.
"We just lost our discipline," said Wauwatosa East coach Rob Hamill, whose team fell to 3-1 and 0-1 in conference. "That was the whole thing. In the first half when we were doing the things we've been teaching and playing disciplined, we were showing what we can do. Then when they make a little run, we weren't able to respond in a disciplined way, and it got a little out of hand."
Brookfield East had four different players finish with multiple steals, including Ralfs with five and Nikki Pink with four. While the Spartans were eventually able to get rolling, their own turnovers and missed shots near the rim prevented them from grabbing control of the game earlier.
Depth is required in order to consistently wear teams down with pressure. Early on, Brookfield East appears to have a deep and athletic roster capable of pressuring teams throughout games.
"The beauty of it is you have to be able to have the depth," Goodman said. "It is always a work in progress. We are deep, but we're still inexperienced as far as varsity minutes go. We're still trying to figure out an identity, but I can usually go 10 or 11 deep each game."
Ralfs led the Spartans with 16 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Adriana Plavsic finished with 11 points, five rebounds, five assists and two blocks, and Molly DeValkenaere added 7 points, six rebounds and three blocks. Nikki Pink scored 9 points and grabbed three rebounds, Rachel Scott scored 7 points, and Lizzy Cagle had 6 points and seven rebounds.
"We took one on the chin to (Tosa East) last year, so we wanted to make sure we got them to start the year this year," Goodman said. "You have to get the first one (in conference). We still have some things to work on. I told the girls, 'We won by 26, but we still have a lot to work on.'"
Spartans fall to Muskego
Brookfield East began last week with a 51-43 loss to Muskego on Nov. 29.
With the game tied, 24-24, at halftime, the Spartans scored just four points in the first eight minutes of the second half, allowing the Warriors to make a run to pull ahead for the eventual victory.
"We went on a little lull," Goodman said. "The thing with this group sometimes is we get a little flat offensively. We go on some spurts where we don't score. I called a timeout in that game with about 8 minutes to go and we were at 28 points. We had 24 points at halftime.
"You can't play 12 minutes of basketball and only score four points. They just pulled away on us. We made it a game at the end, but you just can't have those lulls."
Ralfs led the Spartans with 13 points, four rebounds and two steals. DeValkenaere added 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks, while Cagle finished with 6 points and nine rebounds.