Though the Woodland Conference Eastern Division title that the Brown Deer boys basketball team won by a wide margin this winter looked to be easily achieved, it was anything but, because the individual game drama with the Falcons was always great.
Against Greendale, Whitnall, Pius XI and others, the high-octane Falcons fell behind by huge margins in the first half, only to have the team's fabled "press and run" attack come to the rescue each time, allowing the them to record timely victories.
"If I had to use one word, it would be resiliency," coach Kelly Appleby said of his 21-4 squad, which also won a WIAA regional title. "Even in that last game (the sectional semifinal loss to eventual state qualifier East Troy), they were talking at the half that this could be done … When in doubt, we would change up things and try to give the other team havoc."
Bouncing back from losses
The senior-heavy (10 all told) Falcons displayed that quality in other ways too. Injuries denied them the services of veteran point guard Jake Schimenz until the last third of the season and the services of key defensive stopper Donte Harmon for a good chunk of the mid-season.
That situation led to a bad mini-spell in late December, which resulted in two tough losses in the John Chekouras Homestead Tournament, but then the Falcons bounced back with an emotionally important nonconference win over eventual Milwaukee City Conference co-champion Milwaukee Washington.
They had an eight-game winning streak to start the season and then a 12-game winning streak at the end that was only stopped by the loss to East Troy. The league title was the first since the one the Falcons shared in the thrilling 2008 season.
The Falcons averaged 72.4 points per game and allowed 62.9. They were led by 6-3 senior forward Trayvon Palmer, who earned Woodland Eastern Division Player of the Honors after averaging 17 points and 10 rebounds a game this season. He also had 60 steals and 49 blocks.
He got help from fellow first-team Woodland East selection D'Sean Groce (14.9 ppg. and team high 44 3-pointers). Center Devante Jackson tossed in 12.3 a contest and grabbed 5.6 rebounds while guard Desmond Jackson averaged 11.3 ppg., and hit 31 3-pointers.
In limited play, Schimenz averaged 4.1 assists per game.
Desmond Jackson, Schimenz and Palmer were the team tri-captains and Appleby noted that Schimenz helped out as a bench coach until he could return to action full-time.
"I really liked the guys' competitiveness," Appleby said. "They were never complacent and were always about improving every day. They were just very competitive in practice."
As noted, the senior class is large and includes Desmond Jackson, Groce, Kinieth Lewis, Schimenz, Palmer, Harmon, Thomas Uzzi, Jack Wallisch, David Bach and Marcus Bond.
Devante Jackson will be the sole remaining starter and he will look to get help next year from members of an 18-4 junior varsity team and a 16-4 freshmen squad.
"Hopefully, we'll be in a reload and not rebuild frame of mind," Appleby said. "We've got some complete basketball players on the lower levels and they're already playing some AAU ball. They should be ready to go."
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