A slow start did not stop the Whitnall boys basketball team in a 61-45 triumph over South Milwaukee on Jan. 15.
The Falcons, who were coming off a tough loss to Muskego earlier last week, were sluggish in the first few minutes against the Rockets and fell behind 14-4.
'I was not pleased with our early effort,' coach Steve Kujawa said. 'We came out flat and lethargic, and we had a lack of movement on offense. I pulled my starters and put the second five in there for a while, and they gave us a spark.'
The Falcons battled back but still trailed 28-24 at the half after South Milwaukee nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer.
Coach challenged players
'I challenged the kids at halftime,' Kujawa said, 'and they responded.'
Whitnall outscored the Rockets, 37-17, in the second half as Kevion Taylor went to work. Taylor scored 12 straight points at one stretch en route to his game-high 31 points.
'We fed the ball into the post to Taylor,' the coach said. 'He showed a good mid-range game and played well inside, drawing fouls and making free throws (12 of 12).'
Mitchell Knapp and Daren Thomas provided a defensive spark as well.
'In the second half, we got all the loose balls, and we had second and third chances offensively,' Kujawa continued. 'That was the difference.'
Leading scorer Tyler Herro finished with 10 points after fouling out with eight minutes left. Thomas added 7 points and Austin Brault, Andrew Mixon and Knapp each 4 points, with Brault also totaling six assists.
The victory moved Whitnall to 5-2 in the Woodland Conference and 10-3 overall.
The Falcons dropped a 66-57 decision to Classic 8 Conference leader Muskego on Jan. 12.
'That was another self-inflicted wound,' Kujawa said. 'We had a lack of rotation on defense on their best shooters, and we committed 14 turnovers.'
Whitnall trailed 34-21 at the half and then rallied to within 4 points in the second half. At that point, however, the Falcons committed a turnover that led to a Muskego 3-point field goal and then had a missed shot that set up a layup on the other side, and it quickly became a 9-point deficit.
Herro scored 21 points to tie Muskego's Tommy Anderson for game honors, Taylor added 14 points and Thomas 6 points.
Falcons play at West
Whitnall plays at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, at New Berlin West and then faces three tough games, starting with unbeaten New Berlin Eisenhower at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, at home.
Greendale and Woodland East leader Brown Deer then follow on the schedule, so this stretch will make or break the Falcons' title hopes.