The Wauwatosa East High boys varsity basketball program must be pleased to know a new crop of talented players is coming its way in just a couple of years.
The seventh-grade Jr. Raiders swept to the youth Metro Classic Conference Basketball League tournament title with three wins Sunday, culminating in an exciting overtime victory in the championship game.
In their opener, second-seeded Tosa East, with a 10-4 season record, faced No. 7 seed Waukesha South. Despite the final score of 45-42, the Jr. Raiders were in control from start to finish.
Next up was Tosa East vs. Brookfield East, seeded sixth. The East boys played strong defense, passed the ball well and made their shots to cruise to a 48-30 win.
Then things got tough.
For the Tosa East seventh-graders, the conference championship game vs. Brookfield Central was an uphill battle just to stay in the game.
The Jr. Raiders went ahead after making the first bucket of the contest and then trailed the rest of the game, by as many as 12 points. But the boys maintained their composure and kept bringing it back within reach.
The Jr. Raiders' trap defensive worked well down the stretch and they were able to fight to within three points as the clock wound down. Then Jalen Holley gave them just what they needed, scoring a three-pointer with 4 seconds left in regulation to tie the Brookfield Jr. Lancers.
In overtime, the revved-up Jr. Raiders took over, gained their first lead since the opening minute, and notched the victory and the conference title 51-48.
The Jr. Raiders have been invited to play in the Wisconsin State Invitational Championship Tournament along with 88 other community seventh-grade teams. The tournament will be March 16-17 in La Crosse.
"The kids have made lots of progress this year and worked very hard to accomplish this," said Linda Cupertino of the Red Raiders Athletic Booster Club.