Brookfield Academy saw its season come to an end Thursday night when Milwaukee Lutheran ran away with an 87-76 victory at the WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal at West Allis Central.
And BA coach Patrick Clarey was not surprised about the talent the Red Knights coach Jason Moesch puts on the court for two reasons.
'He plays 10 seniors — that's great depth,' Clarey said. 'He has a second unit as good as the first unit. I told Jason I've been beaten by the state champs (Brown Deer) the last three years, so I know what it takes to get there because I've seen it first hand. He has everything it takes to win the state title.
'He's got guys who work their butts off. They're intelligent kids that believe in his system and love one another. They don't care who gets the credit, they don't care who scores, you see it. That's just a great, great team.'
The other reason Clarey wasn't surprised by the Red Knights' talent — three of them are members of his summer camps: Dante Nobles, Nick Winter and Christian Gerner.
'You've got to realize, I got beat by three kids who are lifetime campers of mine,' Clarey said. 'Nick Winter, he's been at all my camps. Dante has been at all my camps and Gerner. Gerner told me, 'Coach I still have all your camp balls.' I said, 'Thanks.' They're skilled kids. They have heart. They compete, and they are just tough dudes. I was very impressed with their team.'
Winter and Nobles scored 15 points each, and Gerner added 7, showing they were good campers.
Leading 28-27 at halftime, the first two minutes of the second half were competitive for BA.
After the Blue Knights senior forward Joe Lemon scored on a drive to begin the second half, ML senior Jesse Soderbeck hit a jumper to make it 30-29. Nobles then scored on a goaltending call on BA's Colten Bonk to take a 31-30 lead. Senior guard Aaron Goecks then passed to 6-10 junior center Alex Setzer for a layup, giving Brookfield Academy its final lead of the night at 32-31 with 16:28 left to play.
Brookfield Academy quickly saw the game come to an end at the 15:55 mark, as Nobles turned into a 1-man scoring machine.
The Red Knights then went on a 10-0 run. First Nobles scored on a drive; then he hit two long 3-pointers, and Soderbeck added a jumper for a 41-32 lead. Both teams then exchanged points the rest of the way, with the Red Knights getting as large a lead as 15 points, 54-39, with 12:03 left to play.
'We kind of wore down, especially early second half,' Clarey said. 'We just didn't have an answer for that. We didn't shoot the ball particularly well. We struggled on the offensive end.'
ML was 12-for-20 in the final 3:26 left, managing two baskets by Soderbeck. BA outscored them, 17-16, in that final segment, but it was way too little too late.
Lemon was the game's high scorer with 34 points in his final game, including four 3-pointers. Ryan Clarey added 20, and Setzer added 13. Soderbeck had 26 points, Olalekan George had 19 and Nobles and Winter had 15.
Milwaukee Lutheran (18-8) was 22-for-35 from the free-throw line, and BA was 19-for-28.
'We just didn't hit,' Clarey said of his team's shooting. 'You have to hit big shots in big games, and we just fell short on that. Ask Brown Deer how good they (the Red Knights) are defensively. That's a great team we went against, and some of the credit goes to the way they played, and in some cases we just didn't hit shots.'
Clarey then talked about his team, which finished 20-5 with a conference title.
'I'm proud of my guys,' he said. 'Nobody believes in our conference, but we play the best of the best. We took a team that is about to win the title in Minnesota, Caldonia, to two seconds (80-79 loss). We beat Destiny (80-74). We're a good basketball team, it just didn't happen tonight for us. It was just a great high school game. I'm happy to be a part of that.'