After coming close to upsetting two of the state's top teams in consecutive games, the Brookfield East boys basketball team broke through in a big way against Sussex Hamilton.
The Spartans rolled to a 76-41 win over the Chargers on Jan. 6, improving to 4-5 overall and 2-2 in the Greater Metro Conference.
"We played a very sound game on both sides of the floor, but it was our defense that took the biggest step forward," Brookfield East coach Joe Rux said. "Our ability to pressure their guards and rebound the basketball was the biggest factor in setting the tone for the game. Giving the type of effort our players did on defense is not easy, so we are certainly proud of their efforts."
Brookfield East played almost mirror halves, leading 38-21 at halftime before outscoring Hamilton, 38-20, in the second half.
Senior forward Patrick Cartier led the Spartans with 18 points, while senior guard Jake Graf added 17 points. Sophomore forward Riley Le Tourneau scored 10 points and junior guard Sam Tallmadge and freshman guard Michael Poker each finished with 6 points.
"We shared the ball on offense and played to our strengths individually and as a team," Rux said. "On the defensive end, our positioning was solid throughout the game, and when we did have breakdowns, our gap help on penetration did a great job of forcing tough shots or difficult passes. Each player was focused on getting their job done but also understood how that job contributed to the success we had on each possession."
Four games into league play, Brookfield East sits in fourth place in the Greater Metro. Brookfield Central leads the conference at 4-0, followed by Menomonee Falls at 3-1, Wauwatosa East at 3-2 and Brookfield East at 2-2.
Brookfield East's boys basketball team came up just short in its upset bid when it fell, 62-58, on the road at Cedarburg on Jan. 3.
The game was tied, 30-30, at halftime, but the Bulldogs, ranked No. 7 in the Division 2 coaches poll, outscored the Spartans, 32-28, in the second half to move to 8-1 on the year.
"Cedarburg presented a number of challenges due to the skill levels of their top two players, so we really wanted to limit the amount of damage their role players did on the offensive end of the floor," Rux said. "For the most part, we were able to do that. Ultimately, the first five minutes of each half cost us in the end. That was an issue we addressed following the game, and our kids responded well against Sussex."
Senior guard Jake Graf led Brookfield East with 23 points on five made 3-pointers. Junior forward Peyton Simon scored 7 points, while sophomore forward Riley Le Tourneau and freshman guard Michael Poker each added 6 points.
Brookfield East made just 11 of 21 free-throw attempts but hit 11 3-pointers.
John Diener scored a game-high 28 points for Cedarburg, and Jordan Johnson added 20 points.
Brookfield East was scheduled to travel to Marquette to face the Hilltoppers on Tuesday, Jan. 10. The Spartans will host rival Brookfield Central at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13.