Shorewood junior forward Donovan Freeman could only pump his fist in frustration as his long three-pointer rattled off the back of the iron Tuesday night at the buzzer allowing New Berlin West to take a collective deep breath as it pulled off a physical 58-55 Woodland Conference road decision.
"That's the way our season has been going," said Greyhound coach Phil Jones. "Almost all of our losses have been like that. Greendale, South Milwaukee, Eisenhower and now this one. All four points or less."
With the win, West improved to 6-3 in Woodland divisional play and 8-4 overall while Shorewood fell to 3-5 and 6-5, respectively.
And Vikings coach Jeff Lewiston knows how lucky his team was tonight. West led wire-to-wire but the Greyhounds hung around all night and there was no point in the second half when the Vikings felt comfortable.
"We were fortunate," Lewiston said. "They just kept coming and coming. We had to keep our foot on the accelerator because they just kept battling."
There were several roller-coaster-style surges and counter-surges in the second half. Behind Freeman's four points, the Greyhounds scored the first six points of the third quarter to close to within 30-29 with 6:17 left.
But there, Shorewood stalled, missing several chances to take the lead, including four shots on one possession. Finally, West's Darrin Sowinski (17 points) and Dan Sidesky (14) got back-to-back buckets to give the Vikings some breathing room.
The baskets all came as part of a furious and physical flurry.
"The game got out of hand and was too physical," said Jones. "I think they (the officials) lost a little control at times."
Shorewood got it back to one again at 36-35 on a Freeman (20 points) drive with 1:49 left in the third, but then West scored the last six points of the period to make it 42-35 going into the fourth.
The Greyhounds got it to within three early in the fourth, but then West went on a 9-2 run to expand the advantage out to 52-43 with 4:52 left. Austin Fritz's lay-up made the Vikings the most comfortable they would be in the period.
But West would then go quiet for more than three minutes as Shorewood, keyed by a three-pointer by Bobby Kohl (nine points), went on a 7-0 run to close the margin to 52-50 with 1:36 left.
A technical foul on the Shorewood bench resulted in two made Sidesky free throws for the Vikings at the 1:29 mark and made it 54-50.
Things weren't done yet. Freeman got a lay-up with 39 seconds to go to cut the margin to 54-52. After West burned two timeouts trying to get something going, Sidesky hit two more free throws to make it 56-52 with 25 seconds left.
Shorewood missed a shot, but the Vikings couldn't clinch the game either, as a front end of the bonus would not go down.
Freeman tired to put the Greyhounds on his back one more time, as he scored seven of his points in the fourth. He made a tough drive to the basket, sank the lay-up, was fouled and completed the three-point play with just 10 seconds to go cutting the margin to 56-55.
But then Viking point guard Dino Poulos sank two more charity tosses with seven seconds left to make it 58-55. Shorewood got the ball in Freeman's hands one more time and he put up a long but good-looking shot from the right wing. it was just long.
"I think what happened to us at times is that fatigue set in," said Jones, whose team also got 14 points from center Aaron Bailey. "We can only go about six or seven deep and then we have a bit of a drop-off as far as kids who can really play. His (Lewiston's) bench is a little longer than mine."
"But I liked how our kids have learned to survive in this league.They fight and they don't give up."
"He (Jones) does a very good job over there," said Lewiston. "He has them playing good ball over there. They just don't quit. ...This was a nice road win for us. Our kids have been playing better of late and they don't quit either."
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