By Jason Arndt
Westosha Central needed two overtimes to put away visiting Waukesha West during a non-conference meeting in late January.
However, unlike the first contest, which saw the Falcons defeat the Wolverines 67-63 on Jan. 22, Westosha Central dispatched Waukesha West in regulation on a 53-43 decision March 5 in highly physical WIAA Division 2 regional championship.
The top-seeded Falcons, ranked fourth in the Division 2 WisSports.net Coaches Poll, jumped to 23-2 overall with their 14th consecutive victory and advanced to Thursday’s sectional semifinal against eighth-ranked Milton at Wilmot.
Waukesha West completed its season 11-15 overall.
No. 3 Milton (21-5), which lost to Westosha Central 64-51 in a Feb. 9 regular season matchup, edged third-seeded Burlington 53-49 to force a second meeting between both teams.
James Hyllberg, Falcons’ coach, acknowledged playing the same multiple times in a season is a difficult task.
But with several days of practice, the Falcons will come prepared, Hyllberg said.
“It is good and bad, it is hard to beat a team multiple times,” Hyllberg said. “Our guys will be ready.”
The winner of Thursday’s sectional semifinal between Westosha Central and Milton will face DeForest or Oregon on Saturday with Oregon as the tentatively slated venue.
As for March 5 meeting with Waukesha West, the Falcons won their first WIAA Division 2 regional championship since 2019.
Highly physical contest
Westosha Central’s defense, as well as the ability to withstand a highly physical Waukesha West team, played a critical role in the Falcons’ regional championship.
The Wolverines, who committed 18 personal fouls, including one flagrant, also received two technical fouls with first against coach Don Valle followed by one assessed to the West bench.
“I thought it was a very, very physical games, there was a lot of hard fouls and a lot of high emotions,” Hyllberg. “But, I am proud of our guys and their composure.”
The multiple fouls, meanwhile, resulted in the Falcons shooting 14-for-21 from the free throw line compared to just 4-for-8 by Waukesha West.
Westosha Central, which carried a 31-21 into halftime, went into a 22-22 stalemate against the visiting Wolverines.
Senior Jack Rose, who finished with a team-leading 23 points, scored 16 in the first half.
Rose said the Falcons’ persevered even amid a physical and sometimes emotional contest.
“In games like these, you just got to attack the rim,” he said. “If it is going to be physical like this, you are bound to get a call here or there.”
Westosha Central, meanwhile, did much better against West’s multiple shooting guards on March 5 compared to its first meeting with the Wolverines.
“They have a lot of guards, but we mixed it up, played different defenses. Our guys played great defense,” Hyllberg said. “When you hold a team to 43 points, you are going to win most of those games.”
On Jan. 22, Dominic Hill scored 20 points for Waukesha West, but the Falcons held the guard to only two points in the regional final.
Rose, like all of his teammates, spent the days leading up to the Waukesha West focusing on defense.
“We had four days of practice this week, and we focused on defense,” Rose said. “Locking down on defense and talking to each other is something we are getting better at.”
Waukesha West 6-foot-7 senior Cal Krohn finished with a game-high 25 points, but went only 1-for-5 from beyond the perimeter, with junior Jake Thomsen as the next highest contributor at 10.
However, after Krohn and Thomsen, the Falcons held four scorers to two points each in the regional championship.
Rose, who collected 10 rebounds for a double-double, credited 6-foot-4 senior Michael Mulhollon and 6-foot-4 junior Wyatt Anderson for their efforts in the low post.
“They are doing a lot of the dirty work that people don’t see,” Rose said.
Anderson, who scored five points, and Mulhollon combined for 11 rebounds.
Senior Kenny Garth, meanwhile, went 5-for-6 from the free throw line to finish second on the team with 13 points.
Central ousts Comets
Meanwhile, a night earlier, the top-seeded Falcons defeated No. 9 Delavan-Darien in the regional semifinal on a 61-40 decision.
The Falcons, who carried a 33-18 halftime advantage, outscored the Comets 28-22 in the second half to come away with a victory.
Garth scored a game-high 18 points, collected three rebounds, dished out three assists and had four steals.
Additionally, Rose added 17 points along with nine rebounds.
Erik Cesarz knocked in 13 points to lead Delavan-Darien (10-16).