Huge third quarter leads to title-clinching win for Brown Deer boys
Ten seniors celebrate first crown since 2008
Brown Deer - It's like Brown Deer boys basketball coach Kelly Appleby said: "Sometimes we have bad quarters and sometimes we have good quarters."
Well, the Falcons clinched a share of the Woodland Conference Eastern Division title on Jan. 29 with probably their best quarter of the year, as they erased an eight-point halftime deficit to host Whitnall with a 33-8 third period frenzy that left their hosts looking for the bus that had run over them.
The end result was an 87-72 decision that improved the Falcons to 13-1 in Woodland play and 15-3 overall, while Whitnall fell to 8-6 and 10-7, respectively. The Falcons became even happier a night later when Shorewood (8-6 in league) lost to Pewaukee, thereby clinching the outright divisional title, their first league crown since the great year of 2008 (see separate column).
Brown Deer took on St. Francis on Tuesday, hosts Greenfield on Friday and then hosts area rival Shorewood on Feb. 12 as the regular season begins to wind down in a hurry.
The Falcons hurried to get back into the game against Whitnall, as they looked a bit listless in the first half, falling behind, 41-33.
"We had to come out playing a lot harder than we had in the first half," said Falcons senior forward Trayvon Palmer, who was one of four Brown Deer players in double figures with 18 points. "It gets really exciting when we start playing like that. When it starts going really well, it makes us want to play harder, go even faster."
Appleby said the team simply needed a change of strategy.
"We were working really hard at a tight man defense in the first half," he said. "What we needed to do was to try something that was more usable and more conducive to success for us."
Which was full court, in-your-face man pressure, which would tighten the gaps that the Falcons had left open in the first half.
Brown Deer got the third quarter off to a good start, as a 3-pointer from senior D'Sean Groce on the first possession, cut the deficit to 41-36. The host school bumped the lead back up to seven on a nifty layup by Daniel Weymier at the 7:31 mark of the third quarter.
Those would be the last points Whitnall would score for close to four minutes, as the Falcons would go on a 19-0 run that put them ahead for good at 55-43.
Senior point guard Desmond Jackson would get the go-ahead points on a 3-pointer from the wing at the 5:44 mark of the third and he and Groce would combine on a unique five-point play that all but broke Whitnall's back a minute later.
Jackson (14 points) got a steal and a layup to make it 49-43 Brown Deer. It was determined that he was fouled after the shot so Brown Deer got the ball back. Groce then calmly took the inbounds' pass and notched a baseline 3-pointer to make it 52-43.
A minute after that, Groce closed out the run with a trey from the wing that expanded the lead to 55-42 with 3:44 left in the third. Whitnall, which had expended two timeouts during the run, simply had no answers as Brown Deer would go on to take a 66-49 lead at the end of the third.
In the third, the Falcons hit 12-of-22 shots, including four threes, they would dominate the boards by a rough estimate of 15-1, force five turnovers and equal all the points they scored in the first half in just one period of play.
Brown Deer would hold Whitnall at bay in the fourth quarter as courtesy of 17-of-24 free throws on the night, the advantage would never drop below 10 points.
Appleby said the game was very similar to wins earlier in the season over Greendale and Pius XI, as in both those decisions, the Falcons fell behind big in the first half, only to rally and win going away.
"Both those games we responded very well early in the second half," Appleby said. "We knew we could put some pressure on them and speed up the game a little."
Both Jackson and Palmer were pleased with the conference title, which was a very important first goal for the 10-man Falcons senior class.
"It's always good to get that out of the way first," Palmer said.
"It feels good because we've earned it," Jackson said.
Center Devante Jackson, who would foul out of the game in the fourth quarter, would also finish with 18 points for the Falcons while Whitnall was led by Mitch Brault with 17.
Appleby was a happy and relieved man afterward.
"The big picture? The conference title, we're excited about that," he said.
"We have either a share of the Woodland title or we've won it outright (a tie for the moment), but we just want to keep the momentum going. We want a full head of steam by (WIAA) tourney time."
"We can still do a lot better," he said. "We have a lot more building to do until we reach our full potential."
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