East Troy High School’s Ryan Nixon (No. 5) fights off the Whippets defense in the Dec. 17 game at home. The Trojans won, 85-68, but lost their first game of the season to Sussex Hamilton Dec. 27. (Eric Kramer photo)

Boys fall to Hamilton, wrestlers take eighth at invite

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

For a non-conference contest even before the calendar changes, the East Troy High School boys basketball team’s game at Sussex Hamilton on Friday certainly had more of a different feel.

A sold-out crowd, one of the nation’s top players and two of the state’s best teams in their respective divisions will do that.

East Troy, ranked second in Division 3, fell behind by 13 points at halftime and couldn’t quite ever get over the hump in the second half, as Hamilton, ranked first in Division 1 posted a 77-58 victory.

The loss dropped the Trojans to 8-1 overall.

Despite the loss, there was plenty to be gained by playing a legitimate contender for the Division 1 state championship, East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield said.

“From the standpoint of playing in a big game, making every possession big and having to defend on every single situation, that was really, really good,” he said. “We got more out of this game than any (other) loss. I think playing against those kind of guys make you better.”

East Troy, which trailed 38-25 at the intermission, battled back within nine with about eight minutes left – and stopped the Chargers on two straight possessions, but couldn’t convert on the other end of the floor.

And that was a critical moment, Rayfield said. Hamilton, led by all-everything junior Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s 26 points, quickly pushed the lead back to 14 points to seal the deal.

“We just could never get it over that hump,” he said. “

Before the fans could even settle into their seats, Hamilton had a 5-0 lead that forced Rayfield to take a timeout in the first 48 seconds.

That’s just how explosive the Chargers are, he said.

“It was the fastest timeout in the history of mankind,” Rayfield said. “We missed our first four shots. Then we kind of settled in. We were down 38-25 at halftime, which wasn’t the worst thing in the world.”

Both teams took care of the basketball, Rayfield said, as they both finished with just six turnovers.

It was just that kind of a game with high-level players on both sides.

“It was a hell of a basketball game,” Rayfield said. “The pressure wasn’t the problem. We just missed some shots a little bit early to get down.”

Free throws were a bit of a problem as well, Rayfield said, as his team was 12-for-22 and missed the front end of the bonus three times.

East Troy senior A.J. Vukovich had a game-high 31 points for the Trojans, followed by Quentin Lottig with 12 on four 3-pointers.

“It was just a really high-level game,” Rayfield said. “In that game, it’s a matter of who makes three or four plays in a row later in the game.”

The Trojans take their 5-0 Rock Valley Conference record into a 7:15 p.m. matchup Tuesday, Jan. 7, at McFarland. The Spartans enter the game at 6-2 overall and 4-1 in conference play.

 

Wrestlers compete in Merrill

The East Troy wrestling team traveled to the Northern Exposure Invitational at Merrill on Dec. 27-28 and returned with an eighth-place finish in the Blue Division.

East Troy was 0-5 in dual meets with losses to Merrill (56-21), Waukesha South (61-12), Escanaba (Mich.) (45-30), Sauk Prairie (39-36) and Appleton West (45-36).

Shakopee won the Blue Division title, followed by Port Washington and Merrill. In the Red Division, Bay Port was first, followed by Wisconsin Rapids Lincoln and Menomonie.

Top records for the Trojans were posted by Jonah Edwards (106, 403), Cole McPherson (120, 4-3), A.J. Hall (132, 4-2), Drake Kulick (138, 4-3) and Max Hudson (285, 4-3).

East Troy is idle until Tuesday, Jan. 7, when it hosts Whitewater in a 7 p.m. RVC dual meet.

 
 

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