Kettle Moraine coach Brad Bestor teaches four periods of history a day, so he knows a thing or two about the past. But for his Lasers boys basketball team, the history books keep getting re-written.
Kettle Moraine finally put away a stingy seventh-seeded Menomonee Falls late, 69-59, in a WIAA Division 1` regional semifinal Friday night. Kettle Moraine will play Sussex Hamilton on Saturday back at KM. The Lasers (21-2) added to their school-record number of wins in a season.
But KM struggled the entire first half to score, converting just 35 percent (10 for 28) from the field and allowing Falls to hang around and pester the Classic 8 champs. Dontrell Handy drilled a 3-pointer without hesitation to cut the Falls deficit to only six points, 45-39, with just under six minutes remaining.
"Coach really gets on us every day at practice about the all the little things," said Lasers forward Sam Huskisson. "He tells us to try and slow the game down when it's getting to a pace that we cannot control."
After Handy drained the triple, the Indians (11-12) forced a turnover but could not make any more dents into the Lasers' lead, with two missed point-blank shots. The missed opportunities from close range doomed the Indians all night.
"When you are trying to beat a great team on the road, you can't beat yourself," said Falls coach Ben Farley. I feel we did a lot of the beating to ourselves tonight."
Added Handy: "Those missed bunnies underneath killed us. We had some turnovers too that we shouldn't have let happen."
Handy finished with 11 points but fouled out with three minutes remaining, stripping the Indians of their best ball handler. Turnovers fueled Kettle Moraine on a lackluster shooting night, as they scored 19 points off turnovers. The Indians made Kettle Moraine work for every shot in the second half and missed only five shots the entire second half.
"They found a way to get some steals and get to the rim for some easy buckets," said Bestor. "We really needed it tonight. This group of seniors is very close; they are all friends, but they get after one another at practice and it shows in our physicality."
The stingy Lasers defense clamped down on Murphy in the second half. Murphy paced the Indians with 14 points, but only four came in the second half. Senior Jason Precia finished with a team-high 16 points while Bryce McMurtry caught fire late to add 15 points.
When the WIAA moved to five divisions, it made every game in Division 1 that much more stressful, and it was felt from the opening tip.
"They're one of the better seven seeds around," said Bestor. "They beat a West Allis Central team that has only a few losses. Every night is a battle, and we found a way to hang in there."
The road gets tougher for Kettle Moraine as it hosts Sussex Hamilton, who upset third-seeded Homestead on the road.
"Obviously Brady (Ellingson) is one of the best shooters in the state," said Huskisson about the Sussex Hamilton standout. "It's all going to have to start on the defensive end if we want to advance."
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