By Bud Milroy
For the first time this season the young ’Toppers picked up back-to back-wins last week, defeating Kenosha Ruether 52-40 and Greendale Martin Luther 65-38.
The mini winning streak was short lived, however, as Catholic Central (3-12, 1-10 MCC) dropped its next two to conference rivals St. Catherine’s and Shoreland Lutheran.
Opening up a busy week of action, the Toppers traveled to Kenosha for a non-conference meeting with Ruether High School. Catholic Central came out of the gate firing jumping out to an 11-3 first-quarter advantage behind some solid defense.
Their lead reached 10 after three quarters and in the fourth they more than matched Ruether output 18-16 and coasted to the victory.
Gavin Foote and Spencer Wilker led the ’Toppers with 11 points each. Bailey Wright recorded five assists for Catholic Central. The ’Toppers as a team shot 15 of 18 (83 percent) from the free throw line.
Catholic Central followed up the winning effort when it returned to Metro Classic Conference action in Greendale and squared off against Martin Luther. The Toppers broke open a tight contest that was 29-21 in their favor at halftime with a third-quarter explosion.
“All year long we’ve struggled at the start of the second half” coach Eric Henderson said. “Tonight we finally came out strong and took complete control of the game.”
Catholic Central outscored the Spartans 20-6 in the third quarter led by Foote’s six points plus five points each from Ben Heilgenthal and Mark Bittmann.
For the game 10 of the 11 players dressed for Catholic Central scored. Tegan Miles had a game-high 20 points including 12 of 14 free throws. Wright was also in double figures for the ’Toppers with 13 points.
Streak ends in Racine
The ’Toppers roll ended in Racine when they met up with St. Catherine’s (9-4, 7-2 MCC) Saturday. The Angels dominated the Toppers in the first half limiting Catholic Central to just two first quarter points and 11 in the first half to take a 30-11 lead into the break.
“They (St Cat’s) played real well in the first half, but we missed so many easy shots and you can’t do that against a good team” Henderson said.
Catholic Central shot just 29 percent (12 of 41) from the floor and St. Catherine’s had a 39-10 rebound advantage in the game.
Miles led Catholic Central in scoring with 13 points and six rebounds. Wilker chipped in eight points. St. Cat’s Grant Zimmermann had a game-high 19 points, 13 coming in the first half.
Shoreland Lutheran (10-5, 5-4 MCC) visited the ’Toppers on Tuesday and left with a 51-38 MCC victory.
The game was close throughout but in the end the more experienced Pacers were able to fight off the ’Toppers.
Adam Freitag scored off the opening tip to give Shoreland a quick 2-0 lead. Wilker answered with a three-pointer for the ’Toppers and back and forth it would go in the first quarter, one tie, and four lead changes as the Catholic Central led 12-11 after one period.
The Pacers opened the second quarter with five quick points. Miles went to the basket strong and was fouled on the lay-up. He made the free throw to pull the ’Toppers back within one.
Heilgenthal was on the receiving end of Foote’s pass and scored in the paint to put Catholic Central back up by a point. Shoreland would close out the first half on an 8-2 run and lead at halftime 24-19.
In a low-scoring third period, the ’Toppers shaved three points off of Shoreland’s lead and the teams entered the final period with Shoreland leading 30-28.
Wilker’s free throw and subsequent drive that produced a basket put Catholic Central up by a point with a minute and a half gone in the fourth quarter. Shoreland responded with the next seven points to take a 37-31 lead.
Shoreland then extended its lead with a 12-1 run over the next three minutes to all but seal the victory.
“I thought we played with great energy and effort,” Henderson said. “We just haven’t grown enough yet to handle these pressure situations against more experienced teams.”
Wilker led the ’Toppers in scoring with 12 points. Foote added 10 points and Miles had nine points.
The ’Toppers played without Mark Bittmann and Bailey Wright both out for medical reasons.
Shoreland’s Freitag led all scorers with 19 points followed by Jacob Thren with 18 points.
Catholic Central with return to action on Friday when the ’Toppers travel to Milwaukee to face St. Thomas More. Next Tuesday the ’Toppers will host Waterford in a non-conference game.