Brown Deer - They're on the verge of clinching their first Woodland Conference title in five years, but the Falcons are not taking anything for granted in this year's boys basketball race.
Brown Deer would have clinched no worse than a tie for the East Division title with a win over Whitnall Tuesday night (see BrownDeerNOW.com for details) after their exciting 81-76 win over Wauwatosa West last Friday.
"All we're really trying to do right now is to hit the playoffs with momentum, keep this thing rolling," coach Kelly Appleby said.
With the win against West, the Falcons improved to 12-1 in Woodland and 14-3 overall. In the Eastern Division, Whitnall and Shorewood entered Tuesday's play tied for second at 8-5 each.
If Brown Deer defeated Whitnall, all the Falcons would need to clinch the outright divisional title would be a win at lowly St. Francis next Tuesday. They were on a four-game winning streak going into the Whitnall game.
The title would be the first since the epic 2008 Kevin Wild-led run that wound up with Brown Deer being part of a four-way tie for the Woodland championship. That year's Falcons wound up losing an epic WIAA State D2 sectional final to eventual state D2 champ and fellow league co-champ New Berlin Eisenhower.
If the Falcons are to be crowned conference divisional champs this year, it will be courtesy of dramatic wins like those earned last Friday.
They were up 31-30 at the half and stretched the advantage over West to 53-44 at the end of three periods.
"We were up 11 to 13 points with about four minutes left to play," Appleby said. "But then we turned it over on three straight possessions and they got three 'and one' situations in that time. To their credit, they got it down to three."
Brown Deer didn't hit many free throws down the stretch, but leading scorer D'Sean Groce (19 points) hit both ends of critical double bonus and Desmond Jackson also knocked down a big pair too.
"We were only eight of 12 for the game, but we hit the ones that counted," Appleby said. "At the end of the day, a win is a win. Tosa West gave us all we could handle. We're not asking to be challenged all the time, but games like this do build character."
Groce, who had 13 of his points in the second half, got help from Trayvon Palmer with 18, Devante Jackson with 16, and Jake Schimenz with 12.
Tosa West, which had seven threes on the night, was led by Andre Carroll with 23.
Appleby was pleased with his team's balance.
"We're so team-oriented right now," Appleby said. "We have quite a few options. On any given night anyone can give us a boost."
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