A lot of new faces, a couple of transfers but the same old intensity.
And that's how the Brown Deer boys basketball team clinched its second straight Woodland Conference East Division title Tuesday night, as it rolled past a stubborn Shorewood squad with a 16-0 start to the fourth quarter en route to a 69-47 decision.
"It was a great win for us," said Falcon coach Kelly Appleby. "Back-to-back conference titles is a great achievement for this group. We've been unbeaten on the East side for the last two years and we've had just four (conference) losses total.
"This team (Shorewood), was in second place, so we needed to separate ourselves."
They did, as with the win, the Falcons are now 13-3 in league play and 15-5 overall having won seven games in a row and nine of their last 10. Meanwhile, Shorewood fell to 9-6 and 12-7, respectively and saw its five game winning streak come to an end.
Brown Deer had to replace many key players from last year with 6-9 center Devante Jackson the one key returnee. But Appleby had some talent among the bench players from last year and benefitted from the transfer of 6-3 ball-hawking forward Zack Baun from West Bend and 6-6 post Jerry Luckett from Nicolet.
Behind that uniquely talented trio, the Falcons overwhelmed the smaller Greyhounds for the second time this season. Veteran Shorewood coach Phil Jones recognized a bad match-up when he saw one.
"We could have been a little more consistent," he said, "but this is about our poorest match-up of the season. They're the biggest team in the conference and they can just beat us up on the boards."
But still, the Greyhounds were there in the third quarter. A three-point play by guard Tony Thomas extended Brown Deer's lead to 42-28 with 4:07 left in the third, but with both Luckett and key guard Lewrenzo Byers on the bench with foul trouble, the Falcons were not secure.
Behind sophomore guard Te'Jon Lucas, the Greyhounds went on a 12-1 run in the next 2:30 and when Greyhound guard Kevin Taylor hit a free throw with 1:28 left in the third, it was just 43-40 Brown Deer.
Furthermore, the Falcons picked up an offensive foul on the next play and the Greyhounds had a chance to get even closer, but couldn't convert.
The Falcons then found their wings again as Jackson scored on an in-bounds play and after a stop, Luckett, who had just come back in, scored on a nifty spin move.
Shorewood closed the gap on a basket by Paris Perkins but Jackson closed the period with a bucket off an uinbounds play at the buzzer to make it 49-42 heading into the fourth.
That's when the Falcons unleashed Baun, Luckett and Jackson as their high-pressure, high-intensity brand of play started to wear down the Greyhounds.
Using a true "good defense leads to easy offense" concept, the Falcons opened the fourth quarter with a relentless intensity Shorewood simply couldn't match. They packed the defense in and forced the Greyhounds to try and shoot over them.
They couldn't, hitting only two of 12 shots in the stanza, which led to several easy run-outs for the Falcons who hit nine of 11 shots in the fourth. When the run was over, Brown Deer was up 65-42 with just 3:16 left.
Baun, a NOW All-Suburban quarterback in football, used his great quickness to deflect and steal many passes. He was also a force underneath along with Jackson as one Shorewood shot was blocked after another.
Baun is averaging double-digit deflections a game, said Appleby and had an absolutely stunning, dunk-stopping block against Milwaukee Washington last week.
"He's just all over the floor," said Appleby of Baun. "He's quick, he's strong and has great anticipation." Baun had eight points in the run.
Appleby was pleased with the Falcons' bounceback following the Greyhounds push.
"They switched up their 'D', which we anticipated," said the coach. "We didn't handle it well initially, but our big thing was the response in the fourth quarter."
Paris Perkins had 16 points Lucas 11 for the Greyhounds.
"Too many turnovers for us and too many offensive rebounds for them," said Jones. "We just don't match-up well. It's just one game though. We're not going to let it make or break our season. We'll look to the next one."
Jackson scored 20 points, Baun 19, Thomas 12 and Luckett eight for the Falcons.
"What you saw there at the end was real Brown Deer basketball," said Appleby. "We'll play hard and then let you see if you can keep up. They made that run, but then we tired them out in the fourth quarter."
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