A fired-up South Milwaukee team bolted to a quick lead over Whitnall in the Woodland Conference boys basketball finale on Feb. 24, but the Falcons responded.
They outscored the Rockets, 47-22, in the second half to pull out a 70-55 victory and finish the regular season at 16-6.
'They (the Rockets) came out hot and hit five 3-pointers in the first half,' coach Steve Kujawa said, 'and we were down 10 (33-23) at the half. I was not pleased, but we talked about it (in the locker room), then came out and blew the game open.
'We made some nice defensive stops and were more aggressive on defense. We stopped their dribble penetration and their backdoor cuts to the basket.'
Whitnall went on a 22-4 run over four minutes to go up by 9 points and then kept building on that lead.
Kevion Taylor hit four 3-pointers in the second half and finished with 27 points to lead the Falcons. Dan Alexopoulos added 13 points with two 3-pointers and Tyler Herro 12 points with three 3-pointers. For the game, Whitnall connected on 10 shots from 3-point range.
'They (the Rockets) put a lot of defensive emphasis on stopping Tyler, and others stepped up,' Kujawa said. 'A number of people from our bench got involved.'
The victory boosted Whitnall to 11-5 in the Woodland East Division, three games behind champion Brown Deer (14-2), which will be going for its third straight WIAA Division 3 championship starting this week.
Whitnall opens Division 2 playoff action at 7 p.m. Friday, March 4, at home against either Bay View (12-10, 5-7 in the Milwaukee City Conference) or Waukesha West (2-20, 1-13 Classic 8 Conference).
If the Falcons win, they would likely play at Pewaukee at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 5, for a regional title. They lost to the Pirates, 64-53, in mid-December.
'I think the playoffs are wide open,' Kujawa said.
The coach is happy about the improvement his team made this season, going from 12 victories to 16, with the playoffs still to come.