Flying under the radar, with largely rebuilt squads, the Menomonee Falls boys and girls basketball teams just continue to impress.
And then some.
The Indian boys rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit and then held on to beat West Allis Hale, 48-45, on Friday. With the victory, Falls remains in a tie for second in the Greater Metro Conference standings with a 4-1 league record.
The Indians have won four games in a row and improved to 8-5 overall. They now get a chance at a share of the GMC lead when they visit unbeaten and top-ranked Brookfield Central at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"Our goal is to play the most number one teams in the state," laughed first-year Indians coach Ben Farley, whose team also has fallen to the previous number one this winter, Falls' border rival Germantown. "This is a tremendous chance to show how good we are. What do we have to lose in a game like this?"
Meanwhile, the very young Indians girls took care of a rising Hale team in surprisingly easy fashion Friday with a 53-42 decision that improved Falls to 3-2 in the GMC and 5-7 overall. After losing four of their first five games, the Indians, who feature three freshmen prominently in their lineup, have won four of their last seven.
Veteran coach Craig Amundson, who recently won the 200th game in his storied career at Falls, is impressed with the character and tenacity of his team this season. The Indians had to replace virtually all of their scoring and rebounding this winter.
"I'm really proud of the girls," he said. "We have (semester) exams this week. We gave them a chance to have fewer practices (for more study time), but they decided to have more practices (with less time in each practice). They didn't want to lose what they had gained over the last few weeks.
"That showed some real maturity on their part."
The Falls girls host Brookfield Central at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Falls takes on border rival Sussex Hamilton on Jan. 28. The boys will be at home and the girls on the road.
By last week's indicators, the games should be entertaining.
Hale outscored the Indian boys 18-8 in the second quarter Friday and had Falls down 31-22 at the break.
"Jerry Murphy picked up two fouls in the half and played something like two minutes," Farley said of his leading scorer, "and I also thought we played poorly on the defensive side. We challenged them at the half."
And they responded. The Indians came back to tie the score at 38 at the end of three quarters.
The fourth quarter went back and forth. Like he did in another recent game, forward Jake Stauffacher came up with another coast-to-coast steal to put Falls up late. Hale cut the lead to two late and got the ball back with about 15 seconds to go.
They got off a challenged 3-pointer, Murphy rebounded, was fouled and hit one of two free throws to make it a three-point game with about six seconds to go.
Hale could not get a clean look at a three in the final seconds.
"It was nice to see us rally like that," Farley said. "Hale is a talented team and that gym of theirs is a tough place to play in....I thought we did a great job executing and that our individual effort was terrific in the second half."
Jason Precia had 10 points, Murphy eight and Dontrell Handy and Bryce McMurtry seven apiece for the Indians.
The Falls girls had an easier time, outscoring the Huskies in every quarter, going up 10-8 at the quarter, 26-22 at the half and 38-26 at the end of three quarters. Freshman guard Madison Grzesiak led all scorers with 17 points while fellow frosh Marissa Igunbor hit six-of-six free throws and had eight points while junior forward Laura Marx contributed seven.
"Hale came in thinking they could take care of us," Amundson said. "We were really happy with the effort. We're fairly healthy and Maddie (Grzesiak) really busted out today. I also liked our focus, especially defensively holding down their big post (Sarah) Mueller to just two points."
Anmundson was also pleased with the ball-handling and noted junior guard Jessie Barczak did a nice job off the bench.
"We're coming out of the gate better," he said. "I'm really proud of the kids."
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