Trojans fall to Martin Luther, 73-68

By Dan Truttschel


Last week’s non-conference tilt between the East Troy and Greendale Martin Luther boys basketball teams wasn’t your garden variety season opener.

This was a sectional final type of a matchup in Game 1.

And it certainly lived up to the billing.

In a rematch of last year’s sectional semifinal won by East Troy en route to a state tournament appearance, Martin Luther finally grabbed control in the final 1 minute, 15 seconds and held on for a 73-68 victory before a packed house in the East Troy gymnasium.

Martin Luther has its sights set on big things this season and certainly played the part, East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield said.

“They could win the state championship,” he said. “They’re one of the better teams in any division. I couldn’t have been happier with how our kids played in the first game.”

East Troy fell behind, 9-0, to start the game but battled back to even at 33-33 by halftime.

“It was a war the whole first half,” Rayfield said.

From there, the every possession was hotly contested, and it wasn’t until the final 1:15 when Martin Luther took the lead for good.

East Troy had basketball with a plan to hold it for a final shot, but Rayfield said a bad offensive possession by his team led to a Martin Luther basket.

After a turnover, the Trojans found themselves down three points with about 35 seconds left but missed a game-tying attempt. Martin Luther secured the win at the free-throw line.

For the game, the Spartans were 20-of-38 from the charity stripe, compared to just 4-of-11 for the Trojans.

“We were up two, down two, it was that kind of second half, back and forth,” Rayfield said. “That game surely could have went the other way.”

The game featured one significant change in a coaching philosophy by Rayfield, as he employed a matchup zone in an attempt to deal with Martin Luther’s size advantage.

That look has been in the works for months, Rayfield said.

“We played it terrific,” he said. “It worked out pretty good. … It’s going to be something we’re going to use. We’re just not very deep and not very big. We have to change some defenses up.”

A.J. Vukovich led the way with 27 points, followed by Michael Polakoski with 20, Quinten Lottig with nine and Chase Cummings with eight. Michael Rosin had five assists.

Martin Luther’s Shaun Harrison led five Spartans in double figures with 17 points.

East Troy hits the road Thursday when it travels to McFarland, followed by a home game next Tuesday against Big Foot.

Rayfield hopes the experience from playing in a high-level type of game can only help moving forward.

“There is no way you can simulate that in any kind of practice or any other conference game,” he said. “It was a sectional final atmosphere. We will grow from it. It’s a great learning experience and a great situation to be in as a student-athlete. We’ll take a lot out of it.”


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