East Troy High School junior Vukovich jumps for the score in the Feb. 14 win over Evansville. Vukovich had a game-high 33 points in the Valentine’s Day game. (Eric Kramer photo)

Boys clinch RVC championship, look toward playoffs

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

Putting the finishing touches on a fifth Rock Valley Conference title in the past eight years was just about a foregone conclusion when the East Troy boys basketball team opened play last week.

And now that goal is complete.

East Troy won its 18th straight game Monday night with a hard-fought 61-57 victory at Beloit Turner to grab a five-game lead in the race with just one week and two regular-season contests remaining.

The Trojans, who lost their season opener in November and have won ever since, improved to 18-1 overall and 16-0 in conference play.

Turner, which is tied with Evansville at 12-5, gave East Troy a battle right to the end, Trojans coach Darryl Rayfield said.

“Turner is going to make a run on that other side (of the sectional),” he said. “I’d be surprised if they don’t get to the sectional final. I think they’re the second-best kid in the league. … They’ve only lost three games in four games at home.

“It was just a great tournament-type game. It was just a hell of a high school basketball game.”

East Troy built an eight- to 10-point lead before Turner began to rally, but the Trojans knocked down shots when they needed to, Rayfield said.

“We did what you have to do when teams are making little runs,” he said. “You have to make your free throws when they’re fouling you and make key baskets. We (also) played great team defense, which was really encouraging.”

A.J. Vukovich led the way with 30 points, followed by Michael Polakoski with 14, Chase Cummings with 11 and Quinten Lottig with six.

East Troy opened its week with a 59-58 victory over visiting Evansville on Feb. 14, followed by a 97-37 win at Clinton on Feb. 16.

Vukovich led the way against Clinton with 29 points, followed by Polakoski with 23, Lottig with 18, Ryan Nixon with nine and Cummings with eight.

Against Evansville, Vukovich had a game-high 33 points, while Polakoski added 10 as the Trojans rallied from a 10-point deficit in the last five minutes to stay undefeated in conference play.

East Troy hosts Edgerton on Wednesday and Brodhead on Thursday at 7:15 p.m. to close out its regular season.

Tournament run on deck

The Trojans drew the No. 2 seed in the upcoming WIAA Division 2 regional and will host seventh-seeded Union Grove or 10th-seeded Fort Atkinson on March 1. The winner faces either third-seeded Elkhorn, sixth-seeded Burlington or 11th-seeded Delavan-Darien in a regional final March 2.

A possible sectional semifinal showdown with Southern Lakes Conference champion Westosha Central, ranked fifth in the state by WisSports.net, could be on the horizon for the eighth-ranked Trojans.

“It’s the toughest regional in the state, and it’s not even close,” Rayfield said. “We’re in a good spot. We’re going to get a couple home games. … We’ll be ready. You have to go play. We’re playing well. We’re defending better. I’m excited to get to next week and looking forward to trying to sustain this.”

 
 

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