Adapting to life without Tyler Herro, the Whitnall boys basketball team won two Woodland Conference games last week and secured a share of the East Division championship.
The Falcons downed New Berlin West, 87-62, on Feb. 22 and South Milwaukee, 63-48, on Feb. 20 to finish 13-3 and earn a piece of the East crown with Brown Deer, which concluded its season with a victory over West Division champion Pewaukee.
This is the first title for Whitnall since the 2011-12 season, when then-senior Stephen Pelkofer led the way.
The Falcons again played without University of Wisconsin recruit Tyler Herro, who is still out with a knee injury. He is also going to be unavailable this week as WIAA Division 2 regional play begins.
Whitnall (15-6 overall) will open against either Milwaukee Pulaski or New Berlin West at 7 p.m. Friday, March 3, at home.
If the Falcons win, they will likely play at New Berlin Eisenhower on Saturday, March 4, for a regional championship.
"We have to prove we can make a tournament run with our current makeup," coach Steve Kujawa said. "We have to remember that we played a real good team, Pius XI, evenly without Tyler, and we have Joey Tilley back (from injury) this week."
The two victories last week were led by Kevion Taylor, Mitchell Knapp and Jonah Bzdawka. Taylor scored a combined 54 points, Bzdawka 37 points and Knapp 27 points.
"There's your senior leadership," Kujawa said. "We need those guys, and others, to play well."
Kujawa said both games last week were mirror images of each other, with the opposition staying close in the first half and Whitnall pulling away in the second half.
"They (the other teams) were giving us everything they had in the first half," the coach said, "but I think we wore them down. We played solid defense, which turned into offense. If we can use our defense to generate fast-break points, we will be tough to beat."
Whitnall led West 36-35 at the half, then sprinted away with a 51-27 second half. Taylor led with 31 points, including five 3-point field goals, with Knapp adding 18 points and Bzdawka 17 points.
Against South Milwaukee, the Falcons nursed a 19-18 halftime lead, then outscored their foe 44-30 in the second half. Taylor tallied 23 points, Bzdawka 20 points and Knapp 9 points for Whitnall.