With wins over some of the top teams in the area, Brookfield East's girls basketball team proved itself capable of playing with anyone it faced before a midseason skid left the Spartans in a tailspin.
But with the playoffs looming, Brookfield East is gaining its confidence back. The Spartans have won three of their last four, including a 49-43 victory over Divine Savior Holy Angels on Feb. 10.
"I've seen it in practice, the confidence coming back," Brookfield East coach Michael Goodman said. "I think after this game they really started to admit to themselves the confidence is back in the right place. We are trying to develop confidence in each player but also confidence and trust in each other. I think we are getting there, and we'll continue to work the next couple weeks to get closer and closer to what it's going to take."
After scoring just 14 points on 6-of-18 shooting to trail, 22-14, at halftime, the Spartans opened the second half on a 26-5 run to take a 40-27 lead. Brookfield East made 10 of 22 field-goal attempts after the break, scoring 35 points over the final 18 minutes.
Junior forward Molly DeValkenaere led the Spartans with 14 points. Junior forward Lizzy Cagle finished with 11 points and six rebounds, and junior guard Adriana Plavsic scored 9 points.
"We didn't really need to change much in the second half," Goodman said. "We just needed to believe in what we were doing, move the ball a little quicker and cut with more of a purpose. We really focused on getting the right shots at the right times.
"We stayed fresh on defense, and everyone worked hard. They didn't really shoot the ball all that well, but I'd like to think we had something to do with that. We did a good job of pressuring the ball and rotating quickly on shooters. A lot of girls got a lot of minutes, and they played hard. We did a good job of forcing DSHA to earn everything."
At 11-10 overall and 6-7 in the Greater Metro, Brookfield East will close the regular season with a game at Brookfield Central (12-7, 9-4 GMC) at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17. The Spartans received the No. 6 seed in the WIAA Division 1 West Allis Central sectional and will host No. 11 seed Milwaukee Riverside (5-16, 2-5 Milwaukee City) at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 24.
With a win over the Tigers, the Spartans would face the winner of No. 3 seed Brookfield Central and either No. 14 seed Milwaukee Reagan or No. 19 seed Milwaukee South on Saturday, Feb. 25.