New Berlin Eisenhower advances past Whitnall
Messman's clutch three-pointers in fourth quarter separate Lions from Falcons
For a high school basketball player, or most basketball players for that matter, 23 points is not a below-average night. When you’re New Berlin Eisenhower junior Reed Timmer, there’s a different set of standards.
As the top-seeded Lions (21-3) ousted the visiting Whitnall Falcons, 61-51, on Saturday night, Timmer was just shy of his season average 25 points per game. But it was enough for top-seeded Eisenhower to move on to sectionals, albeit after a fierce fight from the No. 5 Whitnall Falcons.
One night after surviving a 57-55 scare from Waukesha North, the Lions withstood a far tighter contest than their 80-62 win over Whitnall on Jan. 11. For their efforts, the Lions move on to the WIAA Division 2 sectional at Greenfield, where they’ll face No. 2-seeded Catholic Memorial (18-6) on Thursday night.
“It’s team offense, it’s team defense,” New Berlin Eisenhower head coach Dave Scheidegger said. “Everybody’s got to play their role and be accountable for what they’re supposed to do. I think we’ve grown a lot since the beginning of the season in terms of players understanding their role.”
Both teams put on an impressive shooting display, combining for 15 3-pointers. Whitnall made eight, including four from senior guard Mitch Brault, and Ike connected on seven, with senior guard Corbin Messman also hitting four behind the arc.
“I can’t be upset,” Whitnall head coach Steve Kujawa said. “We gave everything that we had. We left it on the floor. They’re a very good team. I’m very proud of this team. We had 10 seniors who did everything they could to put us in a position to win. The prognosticators did not expect us to do anything this season. A 15-8 season, you can’t ask for anything more.”
The Falcons drilled three 3-pointers in the opening quarter to build a 15-11 lead, but in the second, Timmer did what he’s done all year for Ike – hit big shots.
Two minutes into the second quarter with the Falcons ahead, 18-16, Timmer swatted a pass at midcourt, beat his man to the ball and used a behind-the-back maneuver to create a clear path to the basket. A lagging defender fouled Timmer as he converted the basket, and he made the bonus free throw to give the Lions a 19-18 lead.
The Lions controlled the rest of the half and took a 27-22 lead into halftime. But the Falcons had plenty of fight left.
Brault scored eight unanswered points, including two 3-pointers, to give Whitnall the lead back at 32-29. A back-and-forth battle led to a 39-39 tie at the end of the third after Whitnall senior guard Dan Weymier converted a three-point play.
The Lions finally found separation in the fourth quarter from the hot hand of Messman. Messman utilized screens to connect from downtown on three straight possessions to give the Lions a 48-41 lead.
It was all they needed to put the Falcons down for good. Whitnall was forced into intentional fouls, and clutch shooting from the line allowed the Lions to cruise.
“All of those guys can shoot,” Kujawa said. “One guy hits three consecutive threes in transition and that was it. We talked about how we just have to defend against their flex offense. A couple bounces went their way. We got our hands in their face, we played hard. They just made more shots than we did. That’s how it’s going to be sometimes.”
Scheidegger was not surprised the Falcons gave his team all it could handle.
“Whitnall’s got great ball skills,” Scheidegger said. “They can all pass, shoot, dribble. They’re a challenge. I’m not sure we ever stopped them. Whatever team gets that little separation toward the fourth quarter, it starts to go their way a little bit.”
Weymier led Whitnall with 18 points and Brault added 14. Messman finished with 14 for Eisenhower, while Sandro Pesquiera and Mitch Arman each added 11.
Thursday’s matchup will be the first of the season between Catholic Memorial and Eisenhower.
“I’m sure they’re very good,” Scheidegger said. “But it’s not about who you play, it’s about who comes to play better basketball. Whoever does that is probably going to have a better night.”
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