WIAA Boys Basketball: Central unable to keep pace with Burlington

Junior Jack Rose, of Westosha Central, puts up one of his four 3-pointers during the Falcons’ WIAA Division 1 regional final against visiting Burlington Feb. 20. Rose scored a game-high 27 points in the Falcons’ loss (Jason Arndt/The Report).

Falcons season ends in regional final

By Jason Arndt

The Westosha Central High School boys basketball team can always depend on junior Jack Rose to step up when needed.

Rose, the Falcons’ leading scorer, did what he always does in a Feb. 20 WIAA Division 1 regional final against Burlington with a game-high 27 points.

However, the junior shooter’s contribution was not enough, as the second-seeded Demons well-balanced offense produced a 59-53 verdict to end No. 1 Westosha Central’s season at home.

The Falcons, who split the regular season series with Burlington, just couldn’t get shots to fall from juniors Kenny Garth and Devin Griffin when it mattered most during the third meeting between both teams on Feb. 20.

Garth and Griffin combined to score 14 points.

“I thought both teams played hard, both teams are evenly matched, so it just came down to the wire,” said Falcons’ coach James Hyllberg. “I thought Devin and Kenny had some great looks in the second half, the ball didn’t drop late in the game.”

Rose, who made four 3-pointers, finished 9-for-9 from the free throw line.

But in final minutes, however, Burlington limited Rose to three points.

Hyllberg, however, credited Rose for keeping the squad in the contest.

“We can always depend on him, he is going to show up, he is going to rebound, he is going to take care of the ball,” Hyllberg said. “He had a good game (Feb. 20).”

Defensively, the Falcons held Burlington senior Joey Berezowitz to 15 points, below his season average of 19.8 points per game.

Hyllberg said limiting the Demons leading scorer is a testament to Griffin’s defensive tenacity on Feb. 20.

“Devin did a good job, (Joey) can shoot, he can put up 30 on any given night, he has got a quick release,” said Hyllberg said. “Holding him to 15, we did a good job tonight. Devin on defense was fantastic.”

Burlington, however, countered Berezowitz’s loss of production with a team-leading 16 points from JR Lukenbill and another 14 points by senior Ethan Safar.

Lukenbill, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, made two shots from the perimeter.

“He is a guy that can go inside or outside,” Hyllberg said of Lukenbill. “He can shoot from the outside and a pretty strong kid for a sophomore.”

On offense, for the Falcons, they presented better ball control against Burlington with just three turnovers compared to the Feb. 19 regional semifinal matchup with Waterford.

Additionally, unlike the regional semifinal, Westosha Central did not fall into an early 10-0 deficit to start the game.

Against Burlington, the Falcons led for nearly 30 minutes, and remained in control for most of the first half.

“We came out ready to play tonight, I thought (on Feb. 19), Waterford played well,” Hyllberg said. “Every game is different, every game is about matches. We took care of the ball tonight, last night, we had too many turnovers.”

The Demons, who improved to 19-6, received a No. 3 seed in sectionals and will play at second-seeded Franklin.

Meanwhile, a night earlier, the Falcons edged Waterford, 58-52, with Garth contributing a game-high 17 points, including 11 in the second half.

Griffin and Rose each pitched in 11 points for the Falcons.

Seniors Gabe Riska (14 points) and Ty Johnson (10 points) contributed for fourth-seeded Waterford (9-14).

Bright future
The Falcons finished their season 16-6 and accomplished one of their goals, which was capturing an outright Southern Lakes Conference title at 13-1.

Westosha Central loses four seniors – Corey Hinze, Eddie Menarek, Roman Varty and Sean Noonan – to graduation while returning the bulk of its squad next season.

Expected returners include Rose, Garth and Griffin along with junior Michael Mulhollon, who scored 10 against Burlington, as well as a strong sophomore class.

“We get most of our guys, I am excited about the sophomores that we have,” said Hyllberg.

Sophomores consist of Alex Sippy, John Kinzler, Wyatt Anderson and Jakob Simmons.

“The offseason is going to start right away, guys got to hit the weight room, get bigger, stronger and faster,” Hyllberg said. “I like our future for next year, for sure.”