The Whitefish Bay Blue Dukes boys basketball team earned a trip to the third round of the WIAA Division 2 playoffs on Friday night by knocking off visiting Milwaukee Morse-Marshall Juneau, 78-40.
The third-seeded Blue Dukes (17-6) move on to face No. 2 Milwaukee Washington (16-7) on Saturday. The Purgolders were co-champions of the strong City Conference.
Blue Dukes senior guard Keelin Johnson helped his team jump out to the kind of fast start so important in postseason games by scoring Bay's first nine points. Johnson got into foul trouble early, but junior forward Joe Sherburne helped pick up the slack, and the pair combined for 16 first-quarter points to give Bay a 22-9 lead after one.
"Keelin played really well for us, Joe Sherburne, Christian Lane, Miles Sigh, you could really go down the list," Whitefish Bay head coach Kevin Lazovik said. "It was a great team effort. Guys came in off the bench and contributed and that's what we need at this point. You want to be playing your best basketball at this point in the season. That was a good one, and hopefully we can be even better still."
The Blue Dukes kept attacking, using their up-tempo, aggressive style to build a 20-point lead early in the second quarter and a 36-18 advantage at halftime. The sixth-seeded Eagles struggled working inside against a much bigger Whitefish Bay team and were forced to settle for long-range shots for most of the night.
The Eagles got to the free throw line for just nine attempts and converted six points, compared to Whitefish Bay's 14-of-19 showing. The Blue Dukes did damage on the perimeter as well, hitting six 3 pointers.
"Our guys did a good job of staying active, playing with high hands and making things difficult for them," Lazovik said.
The second half didn't get better for the Eagles. The Blue Dukes stormed out of the gates and led 47-20 within the first 80 seconds. The Eagles appeared badly discombobulated, and at one point came onto the floor with six players. By the end up the third quarter, the Blue Dukes built a 57-24 lead.
Whitefish Bay continued to frustrate the Eagles in a fourth quarter that included technical and flagrant fouls called against the Eagles and a Blue Duke lead that ballooned to 45 points. Lazovik emptied his bench at that point.
The Eagles, paced by senior forward Kevontrell Ellis' 10 points, finished the season 11-13. Sherburne led the Blue Dukes with 17 points, while Johnson and Sigh contributed with 13 and 8, respectively.
Of the Blue Dukes' six losses this season two came against powerhouse Germantown, one to City Conference co-champion Milwaukee King and one to perennial contender Whitefish Bay Dominican. It's a bruising, unforgiving schedule that doesn't let Bay take its foot off the gas. It won't get easier with the Purgolders, who have not lost since a Jan. 2 contest with Brown Deer. The Purgolders clipped Bradley Tech on Friday night, 69-63.
"That's why we play the schedule we do," Lazovick said. "We've seen tough teams so we're ready for those types of games come tournament time. It will be a battle. Washington is obviously on a great hot streak. We'll have our work cut out for us."
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