Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Milwaukee Lutheran vs. Tosa East: Pure High School Fun

Yesterday evening I ended up at Milwaukee Lutheran High School, taking in the Milwaukee Lutheran-Wauwatosa East game. I had considered going to a couple of other games, since I know I’m going to the Marquette High-Wauwatosa East game on Friday, and I was going to make it a goal this year to expand my horizons further beyond my hometown team. But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel area rankings came out yesterday, and let’s face it, no matter how far you want to expand your horizons, you don’t miss the #2 and #8 teams in the area squaring off, even if it would have been nice to see Trevon Hughes play a road game in the airplane hanger that is the Greenfield High gym. Thoughts on the game below:

1) The high school pep band is becoming more and more of a rarity these days, and frankly, that’s usually okay with me, since I’ve seen a decline in pep band quality over the past several years. But Milwaukee Lutheran had an excellent pep band, and almost made me wish that more schools offered pep bands. I can’t speak to the musical talents of the band, since all pep bands are sort of just there to be loud, but song the song selection was great, and included such tunes as The Beer Barrel Polka, On Wisconsin, the University of Michigan fight song (which I embarrassingly love, though as a Big Ten rival, I should hate), and even Blitzkrieg Bop. Sadly, the band left as the game started, but I suppose there aren’t that many playing opportunities after the start of the game, anyway.

2) There was a good crowd at the game, particularly given the bitter cold temperatures outside (a bank clock that I saw on the way over listed the temperature at one degree) and the early-season nature of the game. If this was a February game, you’d have been hard pressed to get into the gym. As it was, I ended up parking a block away from the gym.

3) It’s rare that you see a game with two student sections as into the game as Milwaukee Lutheran and Tosa East students were last night. It was a nice treat to see some food-natured enthusiasm, and two of the larger student sections that I’ll see all year at this game. Of course, special kudos go to the Milwaukee Lutheran student section, who had some excellent taunts last night. I was very impressed when one of the Tosa East players went to the foul line and the Lutheran students began chanting "hot sister" at him. I was more impressed when he returned to the line later in the game and they then chanted "Is she here?" So many taunters don’t do enough research to be truly effective, so it’s nice to see a student section that’s up to the task.

4) I knew the player to watch for Lutheran was Derrick Hankins. He did not disappoint, pumping in three-pointer after three-pointer in the first half. Hankins not only has a nice shot, he’s got range, as he often drained threes from well behind the arc. And while his ball handling in the open court could use some work, he was fairly good at creating space with a man on him, or drawing fouls when he had the ball on the perimeter.

5) It wasn’t just Hankins pumping in threes–the entire Lutheran team went off in the first half, pumping in probably no less than 10 threes, and propelling the Red Knights to a halftime lead. It was one of the hottest three-point shooting displays I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately for Lutheran, their hot hand cooled down at the half.

6) There was halftime drawing for poinsettia plants and various dinner gift certificates, I assume as some sort of school fundraiser. Because there were so many things to give away, the announcements about the drawing spilled over and continued into the breaks during the second half. I wish that there had been a way to wrap this up earlier, since it just seemed a bit odd to hear the PA announcer say something like "Time-out, Milwaukee Lutheran. We’ve got four more poinsettia plants to give away. Here are the names..."

7) Tosa East’s Joe Kapp, normally known more for his shooting ability than his rebounding, hauled in a big number of boards last night, in spite of his slight frame. Of course, Kapp wasn’t the only Red Raider to play well last evening, as nearly everyone looked good in contributing to the Tosa East win. But the rebounding numbers had to stand out in the post-game stats.

8) I’d like to now haul out what I plan on making a recurring feature for high school games this year. My friend Gus always tends to buy a bag of popcorn at the games we go to. Thus, he considers himself a connoisseur of concession stand popcorn. So, throughout the season he’ll be giving me his take on the quality of the popcorn at each gym we go to. As for last night, at 75 cents for a fairly large bag, Gus was pleased at the cost-effectiveness of the popcorn. Milwaukee Lutheran also avoided the common trap of over-salting, and got the seasoning just right. Unfortunately, Gus also noted some staleness, and a lack of warmth from the popcorn. Final score: 6 out of 10.

9) I hope to see Milwaukee Lutheran again, and knowing that one of their primary conference foes is Whitefish Bay, I think I have some idea of when I’d like to see them play again. The guards for Lutheran are strong, as advertised. The main area for improvement that I saw for the Red Knights is interior and help defense. Tosa East guards are generally better than most high school tandems, but they still got into the lane with too much regularity, and often right to the rim. If Milwaukee Lutheran fixes this problem, they’ll be very, very good. As it is, they’re just very good right now.

10) The key stretch of the game for Tosa East was the final two minutes of the third quarter. Jerry Smith (who was as good as I’ve seen him in the first half, and a tad more quiet in the second) went to the bench with foul trouble, and a line-up with a couple of reserves took over in a game that was still tight. With the goal likely to be just hanging on until the fourth quarter when some key players could come back into the game well-rested, the reserves stepped up nicely, opening up a small lead on Milwaukee Lutheran.

So Tosa East eventually extended their lead and walked off with a hard-fought win. The score was a tad more lopsided than it should have been, as Tosa East pulled away in the fourth quarter. With the joy of seeing a gym as electric as possible for such an early season game, I drove home, excited to catch the UMW-South Dakota State game that I was recording. (Perhaps an update will follow on that game if I get some time when I break for lunch today at work).


At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Going give you a little heat on the Pep Band comment. As a HS Band Director, I feel qualified. It's true bands don't play every game anymore. There are just too many games, too many teams to keep happy. AT my school we do half the girls games, half the boys and half the wrestling. We don't even have hockey to add in there. There is still just one band.
We don't spend much of our time working on Pep Band music. Our educational function rises well above that. We regard pep band as a fun thing, we show up, play some stuff and have a good time doing so. The only time we spend on it is at the beginning of the year, getting the new students up to speed, and in our case, we play a UW-Stout basketball game every year,so we spend a few days trying to make it work for them, but otherwise, we have concerts, festivals, parades, community events, etc. to prepare for, all the time trying to do a little meaningful teaching in there somewhere.
We don't exist for the sports teams, but we do our share to support the teams. Now, how many of us actually listen to the band? Sometimes we only get noticed when we aren't there anyway! :)


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