Boys Basketball: Falcons keep rolling over conference competition

Marcus Zackery, varsity assistant coach, calls a play as interim varsity head coach during a Jan. 8 Southern Lakes Conference game at Waterford. He coached in place of James Hyllberg, out with an illness (Jason Arndt/The Report).

Zackery took the helm on the interim

By Jason Arndt

Marcus Zackery knows the Westosha Central boys basketball program more than anyone.

Zackery, a varsity assistant for seven years, has helped grow the game in the community as co-director of Westosha Youth Basketball Club.

Additionally, Zackery, father of former player Jaeden, played witness to a program transformed within the last decade under head varsity basketball coach James Hyllberg.

Entering last week’s slate of contests, meanwhile, Zackery found himself at the reigns of the program on interim after Hyllberg became ill.

But Zackery’s experience and loaded team certainly helped, since the Falcons rattled off back-to-back victories, including a Jan. 8 Southern Lakes Conference contest at Waterford.

The Falcons, who entered play boasting an unbeaten league record, carried a 45-25 advantage entering halftime and kept pace with the Wolverines in the second half to come away with a 75-52 decision.

Zackery acknowledged he has the same coaching philosophy as Hyllberg, so the victory should not come as a surprise, but he knows Hyllberg was likely watching the game from his laptop at home.

“I pretty much know how he wants us to play the game,” Zackery said. “The last couple of games have been pretty good. We have all of the same philosophies.”

Zackery, meanwhile, said Hyllberg should return to the court by Monday and initially planned on taking the bench Friday at Waterford.

But considering circumstances, Hyllberg decided to play it safe and stay home, Zackery said.

“He said he will get another day of rest and get himself together,” Zackery noted.

As for the Waterford win, the Falcons garnered double-digit contributions from three players, including a game-high 30 points from Jack Rose.

Rose, a 6-foot-3 junior, knocked in six 3-pointers and went 4-for-5 from the free throw line.

“(Jack) is getting into the zone,” said Zackery. “He is doing a lot of things we need him to do when we are in some tough spots in the game.”

Rose, held to nine second half points, said the Waterford defense increased pressure on him during the latter portion of the contest.

But the Falcons had junior point guard Devin Griffin step up to score 10 of his 17 total points in the second half.

Griffin, according to Rose, had a stellar performance and created opportunities for other teammates.

“He has been really phenomenal in getting to the hole and creating for our teammates,” Rose said.

Griffin, meanwhile, went 6-for-7 in free throws to help Westosha Central finish 20-24 as a team.

The free throws, nearly all of which happened in the second half, played a critical role in helping Westosha Central ward off any Waterford attempt to bounce back.

“Half of those were in the second half during crunch time and we needed them,” Zackery said.

Other contributors from the charity stripe include senior Corey Hinze (3-3), sophomore Alex Sippy (4-4), junior Michael Mulhollon (1-2) as well as junior Kenny Garth (2-3).

Garth finished with 10 points for third on the team in scoring.

Westosha Central improved 8-1 overall and remained undefeated in conference play at 7-0.

For Rose, the only way Westosha Central can continue is to find ways to improve, especially on defense.

“(We) just need to continue to grow as a team, continue to get better on the defensive end,” he said.

Senior Gabe Riska finished with 13 points to lead Waterford (5-6, 3-4 SLC).

Westosha Central hosted winless Badger on Tuesday and will play visiting Wilmot on Jan. 19.