The University School of Milwaukee boys’ basketball team broke open a close game in the fourth quarter to win its Midwest Classic Conference North game against St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy 60-48 Tuesday night in Delafield. It was USM’s first victory against St. John’s in a decade.
In the game USM senior Josh Baker scored 25 points to become only the third player in USM basketball history to score over 1,000 career points.
The Wildcats took a 15-9 lead in the first quarter and held off the Lancers’ attempts at a comeback throughout the remainder of the night. Baker and Greg Booth scored all fifteen of the Wildcats’ first quarter points. Booth scored the team’s first six points on short jumpers inside the paint and added three more from the line for a total of nine points.
“Greg got hot right away and that really helped us establish our offense,” said USM’s head coach Mike Snyder. In the quarter Baker added six points to help propel USM into the lead. St. John’s had nine points in the quarter on four by Dominic Pfister, four by Zach Detmer, and one point by Frank Manning.
“St. John’s has some nice players. Detmer and Manning are very good. We had our work cut out for us playing them and as well as their big inside guys, Chris Wagner and Brad Roessler,” said Snyder. Snyder rotated his guards during the game to keep Detmer and Manning from causing too much trouble. “It was almost like changing lines in hockey,” he said.
The Lancers’ stage a comeback in the second quarter and only trailed by a single point at the half, 28-27. Detmer led the way with six points. Wagner and Roessler each scored four points and Pfister and Kerrick Taylor each had two. USM got five points from Baker and two each from Booth, Tommy Pennington, Djdade Denson, and Billy Lawton.
The third quarter remained close as both teams worked doggedly for good shots against their opponent’s tough defenses. USM edged further ahead by winning the quarter 10-7. Denson led the Wildcats in the frame with six points. Adam Salaymeh drained a three, and Julien Addison sank a free throw. Pfister and Roessler each had three points for the Lancers, and Detmer contributed two.
Trailing 38-34 going into the final eight minutes, the Lancers repeatedly fouled the Wildcats in order to get the ball. The ploy backfired like an untuned jalopy as the Wildcats sank 11 of 14 free throws to keep their lead intact.
“We took control down the stretch," Snyder said. “We had some big defensive stops, and then we were able to slow it down, spread out the passing and made them come out to get us. Sinking those foul shots was huge. Last year that was a real bugaboo for us against them.”
The Lancers came out and targeted Baker. But he coolly stepped to line and sank nine of 12 freebies. He also scored a three pointer and a two pointer from the field. Denson scored six points, including two of two from the line and Booth added two points. Pfister sank two three pointers for six of his eight points in the period. Detmer scored St. John’s other six points.
In the game, Baker led the scoring with his 25 points. Denson had 14 points and Booth had 13 points. Salaymeh added three points, Pennington and Lawton each had two points and Addison had one point for the Wildcats. Detmer led the Lancers with 18 points. Pfister had 16 points; Roessler had seven points; Wagnner had four points; Taylor had two points and Manning added one point.
St. John’s is now 1-5 and 0-3 in the conference. USM is 8-3 overall and 5-0 in the conference. The Wildcats are tied with Dominican atop of the conference. They hope to maintain that lead on Friday when they play Brookfield Academy in Brookfield at 7:30 p.m.