East Troy High School’s A.J. Vukovich battles for two in Saturday’s 69-62 loss to Milwaukee Destiny. Vukovich led the scoring for the Trojan with 26 points. (Eric Kramer photo)

Boys drop game to defending Division 4 state champs

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

If there ever was a good time for the East Troy High School boys basketball team to take a nonconference loss, a seven-point defeat Feb. 3 was it.

The lessons learned from that setback could pay many dividends down the road.

East Troy battled Milwaukee Destiny to the finish, but couldn’t quite get over the hump against the defending Division 4 state champions in a hard-fought 69-62 loss.

The loss dropped the Trojans to 12-5 overall. Destiny, ranked No. 1 by wissports.net, improved to 13-2.

“It was (the kind of game) we needed to play in,” East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield said. “It was packed, a sectional final type of game.”

East Troy got off to a hot start and took a 16-4 lead behind four early 3-pointers before Destiny began to chip away.

The Eagles led by four points at halftime and held a one-point advantage with six minutes left when East Troy switched from man-to-man defense to a 1-2-2 zone.

Both teams played to a stalemate until the final two minutes when Destiny made one of two free throws to extend its advantage. East Troy, which made just one 3-pointer after its hot start, missed a chance for the lead on its next possession and was forced to foul the rest of the way.

Destiny was 21-for-24 from the free-throw line, while East Troy was 14-for-25.

Improving its percentage from the charity stripe will be a key moving forward, Rayfield said.

“You know you have to make your free throws, and you know you have to shoot it a little bit better in a high-level game to get to the state tournament and win a state championship,” he said. “That’s why they’ve won a state championship. They take care of stuff.”

That said, even in defeat, there were good things that came out of it, Rayfield said.

“We’ve played in those (kind of) games, and just getting in that game right now, having every possession mean something (is important),” Rayfield said. “You know it’s a higher-level game when the place is packed, almost sold out. Everyone knew what kind of a game it was going to be. They came from everywhere.”

A.J. Vukovich led the way with 26 points, followed by Michael Polakoski with 16 and Logan Mitchell with 10.

Even though he’s just a sophomore, Vukovich continues to play at a high level, Rayfield said. He leads the Trojans at 20 points a game.

“He is a high-level athlete,” Rayfield said. “He gets to the rim, he makes people better. He plays both ends of the floor. He plays with senior confidence, and that’s hard at being a 15-, 16-year-old kid. He just plays really hard.”

 

 
 

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