Sussex Hamilton's girls basketball team had the look of a conference champion on Jan. 27 against Wauwatosa East.
With a complete effort on both ends of the court, the Chargers closed in on a Greater Metro Conference championship with a 61-35 rout of the Red Raiders. The victory, combined with Brookfield Central's win over Divine Savior Holy Angels, left Sussex Hamilton up three games on the Dashers with five conference games to play.
"We still have a lot of tough games left," Hamilton coach Bill Scasny said. "We have to take care of our own business and not worry about anyone else. We've worked hard to get into this position and now we just have to finish it."
Macy Williams and Lexi Konop combined to score 14 of Sussex Hamilton's first 20 points, as the Chargers jumped out to a 20-9 lead with 7:24 remaining the first half.
Instead of letting the Red Raiders hang around, Hamilton came out of halftime firing. Williams tallied 7 points in the first 2 minutes of the second half to give the Chargers a 37-20 advantage.
Hamilton led by no fewer than 19 points over the final 11 minutes of the game.
"Last time we played them, we were up 10 at half, and they cut it to 3 points right away," Scasny said. "This time, our goal was to not lose that lead and give them any momentum. The kids did a real nice job of doing that."
Williams finished with 23 points on 9 of 12 shooting, as the Chargers shot 50 percent (23 for 46) as a team. Konop and Taylor Laboy each added eight points, while Kristin Thompson scored six points.
But it was the defense with which Scasny was most pleased. After allowing 62 points to last-place West Allis Central on Jan. 24, the Chargers spent the two days leading up to the Tosa East game focused on shoring up their defense.
Tosa East turned the ball over 26 times and made just 15 of 47 (31.9 percent) from the field. Brooklyn Blackburn scored 20 points with eight rebounds, but the rest of the Red Raiders tallied just 15 points on 6 of 29 shooting.
"We were not happy with our defense (against West Allis Central)," Scasny said. "It paid off tonight. They did a real nice job as a whole on defense. We pretty much shut the other players (outside of Blackburn) down. I don't know if it was all defense, as they maybe had a bad shooting night, too. You combine it, and they started getting frustrated."
Having entered the week on a seven-game winning streak, Tosa East fell, 60-48, to Brookfield Central on Jan. 24 and has now dropped consecutive games for the first time this season. The Red Raiders are now 12-4 overall and have slipped into a third-place tie with the Lancers for third place in the Greater Metro at 5-4.
"It was a little bit of a surprise," Tosa East coach Rob Hamill said. "We had practiced pretty well the past few days and had shaken off that loss on Tuesday. We thought we were ready to compete. In some ways, I've asked the kids really what it is they are trying to make happen. What do they want to do? What is our identity?
"We need to be far more disciplined on the offensive end. We lost our discipline. We had some pretty good defensive sequences, and that is always positive, but the discipline on the offensive end was disappointing not to see."