Brown Deer — Tenacious defense doesn't really show up in a player's box score, and it rarely makes the highlight reel. But it wins basketball games.
Brown Deer guard Chris Smith never turned off his defensive motor in a 48-44 victory over Whitnall on Friday night. The junior held Whitnall standout Will Pelkofer, who entered the game averaging 27.5 points, to just nine. And when Brown Deer (2-1, 2-0 Woodland Conference) needed a big defensive stop, it was Smith who delivered.
Whitnall (2-1, 1-1) trailed, 46-44, but had the ball with 17 seconds left. It whittled away some time and, with the clock winding down, Smith got his hand on the ball and forced it loose. It ended up in the hands of teammate Joziah Mallett, who was fouled with just 1.3 seconds left. The junior guard calmly made both free throws, ending the game.
"I wanted to make them because I kind of had an off night," said Mallett. "I wanted to put it in the bag and get us a victory."
Added Smith: "Everybody did their jobs. Some people have to pressure the guards, which helps the big men out. Everybody was sharing the ball. It's selflessness and we win games. We're trying to start off good, and that's what we're doing."
Junior forward Kierre Ogbonna drained a jumper from the free-throw line to give Brown Deer a 46-44 lead with 58 seconds left. The score was tied four times in the fourth quarter.
"We lost it in the first half (when) we missed 12 layups in the lane," said Whitnall coach Kent Kroupa. "(And) you cannot win any games when you make 5 of 15 (free throws) in the second half. It's impossible.
"We needed a better possession on the last possession and we didn't get that. If you don't make free throws, you won't win. That's the bottom line."
Whitnall missed its first eight shots of the game and Brown Deer built an early 9-2 lead. Pelkofer struggled to get good looks and had just four points at halftime. Sophomore guard Stephen Pelkofer picked up the slack. The younger Pelkofer scored 11 points in the first half and 19 in the game.
"(Our defense) all starts up front with our guards and how they pressure the basketball," said Brown Deer co-head coach James Flegel. "(Will Pelkofer's) going to get shots, he's going to get openings, he makes great cuts to the hoops. I think Chris did a great job containing him."
Offensively, Brown Deer struggled at times. But it got a big lift from forward Brandon McAfee. The junior came off the bench to score nine points. Mallett led Brown Deer with 10.
"Defensively, I think we're exactly where we need to be at this time of the season," said Brown Deer co-head coach Andy Bauschelt. "Right now we're playing outstanding defense and that's why we have two wins."
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