BOYS BASKETBALL: Falcons seize outright SLC title
Five seniors received starting nods
By Jason Arndt
From opening tipoff until the clock expired, Westosha Central High School left little to no doubt its boys basketball team would snag another outright Southern Lakes Conference title as the Falcons romped visiting Delavan-Darien 77-45 Thursday.
The Falcons victory, which came on Senior Night when the five 2017 graduates received starting nods, is their second consecutive outright SLC championship and capped off the regular season with an 8-game winning streak.
Westosha Central coach James Hyllberg said the five starting seniors consisting of Tre Williams, Lucas Graveley, Jack Schroeder, Bailey Menarek and Jake Werth came out ready to play.
“I am happy for the boys, they deserved it, those five seniors work hard every day,” he said. “They played great tonight.”
The Falcons, who capitalized on the Comets’ cold-shooting night, opened with an 11-0 run, courtesy of a two Williams free throws and another shot from the arc.
Williams, who received accolades for his 1,000th career before the contest, finished with a game-high 17 points, including 11 in the first half.
Entering the game, Williams and the four other seniors were determined to make their last regular season contest matter.
“We just had to come out here and play our game, five seniors starting together…we just came, wanted to execute on offense and play good defense and that’s what we did,” said Williams, a 5-foot-11 guard.
Following five points from Williams, Menarek knocked in back-to-back buckets with Werth adding one of his own.
Defensively, the Falcons held Delavan-Darien scoreless until a Seth Grabow layup with 11:51 left in the first half.
“We just had to close up their shooters, they have guys that shoot the ball real well,” said Hyllberg.
After both teams traded baskets, the Falcons bolstered their lead to 23-4, courtesy of six sophomore Jaeden Zackery points, in addition to two each from juniors Cooper Brinkman and Joey Gilliland.
The 6-0 Zackery chipped in six of his 11 points in the first half.
Brinkman, a 6-foot-4 forward, finished with eight points while the 6-3 Gilliland had five.
Later in the half, with Westosha Central ahead 33-18, Menarek added four points to send the Falcons into halftime with a 37-18 edge.
Menarek, a 6-2 guard, contributed eight of his 13 points in the first half.
For the 6-0 Werth, he pitched in two points.
Dylan Anderson, a 6-4 sophomore, had eight points.
Graveley, Schroeder open and close second half
Graveley, a 6-5 forward, opened the second half with back-to-back field goals to help the Falcons cruise the rest of the contest.
According to Graveley, Delavan-Darien mustered all they could against the Falcons, who allowed 14 points from Comets’ Brandon Edmonds.
“Delavan did a good job, but I think when we came out as seniors, we just continued to bring the pressure,” said Graveley.
Schroeder, held scoreless in the first half, knocked in the last five points for the Falcons to cap off the 77-45 victory.
As the team capped off a regular season with a 17-5 overall record and 12-2 in the SLC, Hyllberg knew his Falcons team wanted to capture a second straight outright title.
“We talked about it, the guys wanted the title, they knew this game would clinch it outright,” said Hyllberg. “They had energy, they focused, they just played really really hard tonight.”
While the Falcons secured at least a share of the conference title last week at Waterford, it also marks the first time the school has won back-to-back championships since the 1995-1996 seasons.
“It feels great, that is what we came here to do, these guys believed in themselves,” said Hyllberg.
Meanwhile, as Westosha Central enters the tournament, the five seniors can carry with them the moment they were announced as the starting five.
Trio has Paris roots
For a group of three seniors the time on the court is a reflection of their days at Paris School, where they started playing together in the fourth grade.
“It meant a lot, we have been together since fourth grade,” said Werth, who played with Schroeder and Menarek. “Playing together all of these years, the chemistry was there, we were having fun together (Thursday) and it was a great time.”
Schroeder agreed, noting the friendship with the other two goes beyond a decade.
“It was great, I have been those guys nearly my whole,” Schroeder said. “It’s great to finally finish off the regular season together.”
Menarek, however, said there is more than a connection on the court.
“It’s a great feeling to come out with my guys..great friends inside and outside of school,” said Menarek. “It’s amazing, I don’t have enough words for it, feels even better doing it the second time around being a senior.”
Before they were Falcons, Williams and Graveley met on the court as 7th-graders at Bristol School, which allowed the duo to come together with ease with Westosha Central.
“Tre and I played together in the seventh and eighth grade, so we have a lot of experience together,” said Graveley.
“It’s great to get this last conference title with my senior friends,” Williams said.
More to come
Westosha Central, a No. 1 seed in the WIAA Division 2 tournament, hosts either No. 8 Jefferson or No. 9 Waterford.
But, Hyllberg said it’s imperative to stay focused entering the tournament.
“It’s one day at a time,” he said. “We just got be on our game, we got to make sure to limit turnovers, we have to make sure we rebound and take care of the basketball.”