New Berlin — When the basket looks as big as the ocean you might as well toss the ball in it.
That's the maxim the New Berlin West boys team took to heart last Friday night, when the Vikings hit 17 of 23 shots (74 percent) in the first half, including eight 3-pointers, and cruised to a surprisingly easy 69-36 Woodland Conference Blue Division win at Brown Deer.
"Coach (Jeff Lewiston) says never pass on an open shot," said junior forward Dan Sidesky, who nailed four 3-pointers and scored all of his game-high 18 points in the first half. "He says, 'You always miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.' "
Taking the shots
The Vikings never passed up a shot, open or otherwise, in the first half in cruising to a 45-24 advantage. At one point, West hit nine straight shots over a stretch between the first and second quarters, including four straight threes to start the second.
Those 3-pointers turned a 20-10 game into a 32-10 rout as Sidesky and senior guard Cody Tomsak (13 points) hit two bombs each.
The victory allowed the Vikings (10-1 in league play and 11-4 overall) to take a commanding lead in the division over Brown Deer (7-3, 9-5) and Pewaukee (7-3, 9-3).
"They say everything you do looks a whole lot better when the ball goes in the basket, and that was certainly true tonight," said Lewiston. "Brown Deer is a good ball club; the score doesn't indicate how close we really are, but this was our night."
One of those nights
The beatdown left Falcon co-coach Andy Bauschelt a little shellshocked.
"That was the best shooting performance I've ever seen going back to my playing days," he said. "They just hit shot after shot. Now we didn't do a good job changing things up or getting out on the shooters, but they were just on. We even went to a press and they were still able to get easy baskets on us."
Bauschelt said he had confidence that his team could bounce back in the third quarter and make a game of it, but the Vikings dismissed that thought easily.
The Vikings hit five of their first seven shots of the period while the Falcons missed their first 10 attempts from the field and all four free throw attempts in the session.
It was 56-24 at the 4:42 mark of the third quarter and the substitutes went in en masse after that. All told, the Vikings were 25 of 36 (69 percent) from the field through the three-quarter pole of the game.
A total of 10 West players scored in the contest as high-scoring Chad Mathwig had just a pedestrian 10 points while Mark Ropella had nine, but it didn't matter.
"It's really not about who's doing the scoring," said Sidesky. "It's about making the extra pass and knocking down the open shot. Just do your part and get the job done."
Both coaches know that there's still room to move in the Woodland race and that there's no time to really savor anything, even a win as nice as this. The Falcons will come to the Viking Fieldhouse in just 10 days on Feb. 1.
A point Bauschelt would like to emphasize.
"For our team, this was really their first big game, and we hung our heads a little," he said. "We'll address that. … It's like I told them in the locker. We'll see them again in 10 days and then we'll see how we do."
Lewiston, obviously, would like to see another effort like this one the next time around.
"Our defense set the tone (forcing six Brown Deer turnovers in the first quarter) and then we shot the ball with confidence," he said. "Going into this game, the kids said they wanted to stay where they were (in first).
"I think they made a pretty good statement to that effect."
The Vikings rolled over Slinger, 50-27, on the road on Jan. 18 in a non-conference tilt. They led 21-14 at halftime and 36-21 after three periods.
Mathwig, with 15 points, and Sidesky, with 12, led the way.
The Vikings will be at Shorewood (4-6, 4-8) on Friday and then will have the rematch with Brown Deer at home on Feb. 1. Both games are at 7:30 p.m. West entered the Shorewood contest with a five-game winning streak.
LEWISTON SAID: "I thought we did get a great job handling the ball (just 12 turnovers). They (the Falcons) have a lot of athletic kids who can create problems. On the other side, defensively we were very sound. We're not quick or big but we do get to our spots and we have kids who bring lots of good things to the table."
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