After a difficult 2015-16 campaign, the West Allis Central boys basketball team is looking for improvement this season.
"We should be deeper this year," coach Dave Mlachnik said. "We have 14 on the roster, and they all can play. We have plenty of experience, with five guys who played on our state tournament team (in 2015). We just need to find a continuity on offense, get in a rhythm. Our defense should be a strong point, and we have good team quickness."
The key to the season might well be team chemistry, which was missing during last year's 8-15 struggle.
"Our chemistry was poor last year, but it should be better," Mlachnik said.
The Bulldogs were competitive in their season opener, dropping a tough 51-50 decision to Mukwonago on Nov. 25 at the Klotsche Center on the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus.
Central led by around five points for much of the contest and then fell behind in the final minutes. Montae Blakely, a 6-foot junior guard, scored on a driving layup with 15 seconds left to give the Bulldogs a one-point lead.
Mukwonago drew a foul, however, and hit two free throws with four seconds remaining for the victory.
Free throws were a big story all evening, with the Indians hitting 37-of-50 at the line and Central 13-of-25.
Travon Davis, a 6-1 junior guard, led Central with 9 points, followed by Blakely with 8 points and 6-4 senior forward Jared Welsch and 6-2 senior guard Paysharne Jelks with 6 points each.
Jelks is the returning scoring leader from last season, having posted 7.4 points per game to earn honorable-mention all-Greater Metro Conference honors.
Griffin Johnson, a 6-5 senior forward, scored 7.2 points per game, and Blakely and Welsch each 6 points per contest. Kurt Mlachnik, a 5-11 senior guard, hit a team-high 26 shots from 3-point range.
The Bulldogs next take on Milwaukee Morse-Marshall at 7:45 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2, at South Division as part of the Terry Porter Classic.
They then begin GMC play at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, at Sussex Hamilton.