Posted On: 08/15/18 4:59 PM
Looking ahead to the 2018-19 WIAA basketball campaign, Prep Hoops Wisconsin examines 10 teams who will be better than expected this season, continuing with Wauwatosa West.
Conference Record (Greater Metro): 7-9 (T-4th)
WIAA State Tournament Finish: Lost 52-50 to Pius XI in the Division 1 Regional Final
Key Losses: LeRon Perine (9.9 ppg), Earl Haller (3.5 ppg)
Projected Starting Lineup
G Jaylyn Kelly – Jr. (5.3 ppg)
G Aaron Greer – Sr. (11.5 ppg)
G Justin Steinike – Jr. (6.3 ppg)
F Trevon Liggins – Sr. (6.2 ppg)
F Brady Ingbretson – Jr. (3.0 ppg)
Why Tosa West?
The Trojans ended the season on a nice run, winning four of their last five. Tosa West started rolling, winning those four games each by double digits, including three of four by 20 points or more.
After a victory over Whitefish Bay in the regional semifinals, the Trojans were one possession away from knocking off a senior laden team in Pius XI and advancing to sectionals.
“They’re hungry now,” head coach Marc Mitchell told Prep Hoops Wisconsin. “My guys got a lot of experience and playing time. We’got some really underrated kids. They work really hard.
“I think more people are going to start recognizing these kids.”
There are no moral victories at this level, but Wauwatosa West also had some competitive losses to top teams in the state. The Trojans fell twice to Division 1 semifinalist Sussex Hamilton by an average of 5.5 points. In their last meeting with Division 1 runner-up Brookfield East, Tosa West dropped a 55-47 decision.
“Our guys had to learn how to win at the end of the game,” Mitchell said. “We had chances to beat them. If he got a rebound here, boxed out there, those games could have been different.
“That gave us some confidence and they learned from that. That made us had a really good summer.”
Wauwatosa West will be experienced and deep in 2018-19. The Trojans can return up to seven of their top nine leading scorers from last season.
The straw that stirs the drink is senior Aaron Greer, who shot just under 46 percent from the field in 2017-18. Greer, who was still recovering from a broken foot, came on down the stretch, scoring 17 or more points in four of the team’s final seven outings — despite not being in basketball shape.
“He’s under the radar, because he played the whole basketball season overweight,” Mitchell explained. “He had a really good summer and now he’s in shape. He took over the leadership role for this program.
“Aaron is one of the top 20 seniors in the class. He just doesn’t get the recognition.”
Tosa West has a couple of potential breakout juniors as well.
Coming off strong summers on the AAU circuit, Jaylyn Kelley and James Randolph could exceed expectations.
“Jaylyn got better late in the season,” said Mitchell. “I didn’t have a lot of confidence in him early in the season. After Christmas, I played him a lot more and he played a lot better.
“James was a guy who was very limited offensively, but hustled a lot. He just needs to learn to do stuff consistently. I think he’s figured some things out. He’s trying to get better and earn some more minutes. If he brings the right attitude and works hard, he can be an under the radar player that really helps us out.”
Justin Steinike should help spread the floor and provide a sharpshooting presence for the Trojans.
Last season, Steinike was third on the team in scoring and made at least one 3-pointer in all but four games. In fact, Steinike connected from beyond the arc at least once in 16 of Tosa West’s final 17 games.
“He’s a very good shooter,” Mitchell said.
Will Wauwatosa West get leading scorer Allen Johnson back in 2018-19?
Mitchell was unsure if Johnson would return to the Trojans this season and didn’t have the senior guard at all in the summer.
Should Johnson not be in the lineup, Mitchell is looking at sophomore guard Jay Hinson Jr. to elevate his play. As a freshman, Hinson played in two games on the varsity.
“I’m looking for him to step up an do some things,” said Mitchell. “He’s got a nice body, very good defender.
“Our drop off (without Johnson) is not going to be that bad. If we had to put a team out tomorrow, our top 8-9 players can match up with just about anybody.”
It’s going to be no cake walk in the Greater Metro Conference this season. Brookfield Central and Sussex Hamilton are legit state championship contenders. Brookfield East, even without Patrick Cartier (Hillsdale), should field a very competitive squad.
That said, Wauwatosa West didn’t have many seniors to fall back on. Much of their roster was learning to play together for most of the season and things began to click in mid-February.
With much of their core coming back and a few players who quietly showed they’re ready to take that next step while playing on the AAU circuit, the Trojans may push some of the conference’s perennial favorites.
“Our expectation is to be one of the top teams in the conference,” said Mitchell. “We need to clean up a couple things in games we were supposed to win. Last year was a learning experience. Our guys figured it out.
“We expect to be one of the teams in the Metro that people talk about.”