One of the downfalls of the Brookfield East boys basketball team this season has been starting games slowly.
The Spartans didn't have that issue against West Allis Hale on Jan. 24, storming out of the gate to take a 19-point halftime lead in a 79-61 victory over the Huskies.
Brookfield East snapped a two-game skid with the win, moving to 7-7 overall and into a tie with Wauwatosa East for third place in the Greater Metro at 5-3. The Spartans are one game behind second-place Menomonee Falls and two back of conference leader Brookfield Central.
"Our coaching staff was very pleased with our players' approach to the game," Brookfield East coach Joe Rux said. "For any team, it's important to establish yourself in the first 5 minutes by staying true to your strengths and avoiding your weaknesses on both ends of the floor. We were able to do that. Now, we need to continue to move forward."
The Spartans outscored the Huskies, 43-22, in the first half, which turned out to be an insurmountable lead. Brookfield East had 10 different players score, as the Spartans made 31 field goals, including six 3-pointers.
"In the first half, I felt our team really executed on the offensive end by moving the basketball and putting pressure on the rim," Rux said. "Patrick (Cartier) did a great job of establishing the inside game, and our guys made a conscious effort to play through him. Different games present different matchups, and we were able to utilize our size advantage in the post and on the offensive glass. Riley LeTourneau did a great job in that area for the majority of the evening."
Junior forward Patrick Cartier led Brookfield East with 22 points. Sophomore guard Thomas Francken added 16 points, senior guard Jake Graf scored 13 points, and sophomore forward Riley LeTourneau finished with 9 points.
It was a career-best scoring output for Francken, who has now reached double figures in consecutive games for the Spartans after scoring 10 or more points in two of Brookfield East's first 11 games.
"Thomas has really developed throughout the season," Rux said. "The biggest area of improvement has been his focus in practice and games. He is starting to understand the importance of preparation, and those efforts have had a direct correlation to his success on the floor.
"He made some outstanding reads (against Hale) and put himself in position to create scoring opportunities within the flow of the offense. It was another step in the right direction for him."
The Spartans were scheduled to host Menomonee Falls on Tuesday, Jan. 31 before traveling to Sussex Hamilton to face the Chargers at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.