The Elkhorn boys basketball team poses with its regional championship plaque Saturday night at East Troy High School. (Submitted photo)

 

By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

With a full complement of scoring options, East Troy High seemingly had the recipe to make another trip to Madison this March.

But for one night in a single-elimination tournament, second-seeded East Troy’s talent was trumped by Elkhorn’s grit and determination.

Elkhorn senior guards Luke and Vince Umnus set the tone, combining for 17 second-half points to help Elkhorn post a second straight regional championship with a 56-50 victory over the Trojans in front of a packed crowd at East Troy.

The third-seeded Elks’ sets up another grudge match against top-seeded Westosha Central Thursday in a WIAA Sectional semifinal at Fort Atkinson High School.

The Falcons outlasted the Elks 46-41 in a sectional semifinal game last season and beat the Elks twice in the regular season this year.

With their recent struggles against Westosha, the Elks will need to play with the same edge.

“We were upset all year because we should have been ranked in the state as a top 10 team in Division 2,” Vince Umnus said. “East Troy is ranked up there in Division 2 and so is Westosha and we want a piece of them. We came into East Troy’s gym and it was loud, and we just wanted to win at their place and send them home.”

The Trojans never found an answer for the Elks’ intensity.

“I think their seniors won out tonight,” East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield said. “They have been together for awhile, and they are very physical.”

Elkhorn needed all the momentum it could muster to counter the all-around game of AJ Vukovich.

The junior Vukovich scored seven of his game-high 29 points in the first six minutes to help the Trojans earn a 14-7 lead.

Elkhorn guard Chance Larson helped chipped into the deficit with nine first-half points, including a lefty layup over Vukovich that gave the Elks their first lead of the game, 28-27, late in the first half.

“We had to pick our poison a little bit and tried to stay between Vukovich and the basket,” Elkhorn coach Josh Skatrud said. “And then we tried not to lose their shooters because when you lose them, they go off on teams.”

Vukovich countered the double teams with a nifty post spin move and reverse layup to briefly give East Troy a 32-31 lead early in the second half.

But the Umnus brothers would not be denied, scoring seven straight points to give the Elks a 39-33 lead with 13 minutes left.

“They were trying to get into our heads face-guarding us and touching us a bunch,” Luke Umnus said. “But we used their aggressiveness against them, and we got easy post ups, and Vince and I find each other easily and got the high and lows all day.”

East Troy got as close as one point, 39-38, behind a Vukovich three-point play and two Michael Rosin free throws with 7:38 to play.

But the Trojans’ comeback quest was damaged by a 13-for-23 effort from the free-throw line, helping the Elks maintain their lead down the stretch.

“Got to make free throws,” Rayfield said. “In a game like this, it comes down to the little things.”

Unfortunately for Rayfield, Elkhorn did the little things too well.

See additional coverage in Elkhorn and East Troy area newspapers.

 
 

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