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Lions' dream season comes to a crashing halt

Eisenhower gets off to bad start, never recovers

March 6, 2010

The Lions could really use a "restart" button.

New Berlin Eisenhower's sensational season came to a disappointing end Saturday with a 71-55 loss to Wisconsin Lutheran in a WIAA regional final Saturday at Marquette High School.

The Vikings jumped out of the gates with intense defense and a blistering offense as the Lions struggled to get any offensive attack going in the first eight minutes.

"They came out with a lot of ball pressure," Eisenhower senior Mitch Sperka said. "I don't want to say we weren't ready, but we just weren't as strong and physical in that first quarter as we needed to be. We weren't protecting the ball and we weren't playing good team defense."

Lutheran scored its first 10 points in the paint, including six from 6-foot junior guard Terry Nash.

Off to a rough start

As frustration filled the gym, Eisenhower quickly fell behind, 12-3. Then, Eisenhower coach Dave Scheidegger received a technical foul with 2 minutes, 57 seconds remaining for arguing a referee's call.

The Lions only made one 3-pointer in the final 2:57 following Scheidegger's technical as the Vikings took a commanding 20-6 lead going into the second quarter.

"We probably could have been a little bit more patient at the start on offense," Scheidegger said. "On defense, I thought we did OK, but face it, Wisconsin Lutheran is a very good team, very athletic."

Lutheran's 14-point first quarter lead grew into a 20-point margin entering the break behind Nash's 11 points and standout senior Flavien Davis' eight.

Eisenhower fought hard to put together a 17-5 run in the third quarter to cut the Vikings' lead to just 11 points, but two free throws by Nash and a big 3-pointer by Davis pushed the lead back to 16 points with under a minute to go in the third.

"In the second half we showed we could play with the speed of the game," Scheidegger said. "But we just didn't start with that speed of the game, or the confidence."

Sperka finished with 19 points; Zach Tranchita added 13. Davis and Nash both led all scorers with 21 points.

With the loss, the Lions wound up with a 22-2 record in a season that began with a 20-game winning streak.

Seniors relish their final game

Considering there are 10 seniors on the team, the season didn't end the way the players had hoped or expected. But team chemistry and the relationships that were built throughout the four years of basketball are irreplaceable.

"We have 10 seniors who are unconditionally and unselfishly committed to the school of Eisenhower," an emotional Scheidegger said. "It's what you want every student-athlete to do. It's not about them; it's about their friends. It's about their school. It's what it should be.

"This group couldn't have set a better example for what a student-athlete should be."

It was tough for Sperka to talk about the game and his teammates, but he couldn't say enough about what they mean to him.

"Our chemistry was just good," he said. "Everyone on the team, they're all my best friends. The 10 seniors, we've been playing together since fourth or fifth grade, you know, we hang out every weekend. We're the 10 guys who do everything together. If I have to go through a season with the people I did it with, these are the guys that I want to play with."

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