For West Allis Central boys basketball coach Dave Mlachnik, the Bulldogs' 70-54 victory over West Allis Hale on Jan. 20 could be a new beginning.
For Hale coach John Palesse, it was the continuation of recent problems.
The Bulldogs notched their first Greater Metro Conference victory of the season to improve to 1-6 in the league and 4-8 overall, snapping a three-game losing string.
"This is what we are capable of doing," Mlachnik said, "defensively, offensively; they really made the extra passes. They played together, shared the basketball. It was a lot of energy."
The Huskies lost their fifth straight game to slip to 1-5 in the GMC and 3-9 overall.
"It's been a struggle with us the last couple of weeks," Palesse said. "Offensively, too much dribbling, and defensively, giving up too many layups."
Welsch starts well
The Bulldogs jumped ahead early, with Jared Welsch scoring 7 quick points for a 7-2 advantage. They held the lead for the rest of the first half, although the Huskies crept within 1 point on several occasions, and Central was up, 27-23, at the half.
The Huskies came out strongly at the start of the second half. Ryan Haertel hit a 3-point field goal to give Hale its first lead at 28-27, and Jordan Breznik took a pass from Collin Basgall for a 31-29 advantage.
"At the beginning of the second half, we had a run," Palesse said, "and then it was the story of our season; we couldn't maintain that."
From there, the Bulldogs went on a 16-4 run, highlighted by a 3-point shot from Griffin Johnson, a driving basket by Glenn Martin and 5 points from sophomore forward Jacob Fierst, including a three-point play to put his team up 45-35.
Another 6-0 burst, capped by a 3-pointer by Tyler Stricklen, put Central up 51-38. Later, Kurt Mlachnik hauled in a cross-court bullet pass from Montae Blakely and nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to make it 58-43.
Hale got back within 9 points on Haertel's fifth 3-pointer of the game at 61-52 but came no closer.
Welsch led Central with 15 points, and Fierst added 14 (11 in the second half) and Paysharne Jelks 12 points.
"Paysharne played great, played within himself and was not trying to do too much," coach Mlachnik said. "I went with all the seniors (in the starting lineup). I told those guys, this is your year, but the contributions that Jake Fierst made, Glenn Martin ... we've got a lot of really talented young guys, but it starts with those seniors.
"I thought tonight was a great team win, the type of basketball we should have been playing all year. Hopefully, this will get us started."
Haertel paced Hale with 18 points, with Michael Johnson tallying 11 points and Brandon Barr 10.
"They (the Bulldogs) hustled after balls, we didn't; a lot of 50-50 balls, they got, we didn't," Palesse said. "We've got to keep pushing, keep learning."
Play at Homan event
Central is off Friday, Jan. 27, but meets Milwaukee South at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, at Brookfield Central as part of the Luke Homan Showcase event.
The Bulldogs return to Brookfield Central at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, to take on the Lancers.
Hale will play Homestead at 11 a.m. Saturday at Brookfield Central and then will challenge Sussex Hamilton at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, at home.