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It was both teams' third game of the season, an intriguing early campaign nonconference game between the two-time defending WIAA D3 state boys basketball champions from Brown Deer and the four-time state D4 hoops champions from Whitefish Bay Dominican.

No one thought about it a lot at the time as both teams were going through hefty rebuilding phases, each replacing about four starters, including substantial amounts of their respective backcourts.

'Nobody had any tape; it was more like a summer league game than anything else,' said Falcon coach Kelly Appleby.

But even with eventual all-state forward Taurus Adams in foul trouble and their still painfully young backcourt ('green as grass,' Appleby said) still figuring things out, the Falcons used a 40-28 second half outburst to pull away from the Knights in a 73-61 road decision.

That would be a strong object lesson for the Falcons, who went on to record a fine 19-5 campaign and their fourth straight Woodland Conference East Division title, while for the Knights, it was a watershed moment. They had two single-digit victories in their next five games (all wins) and then cruised through the rest of the regular season with scarcely a challenge.

They didn't have another single-digit victory until the WIAA sectional finals against Howards Grove and essentially used the same template for victory over and over again right through record-setting D4 finals win over Cameron on March 19.

Use the quickness of their guards to harry and harass their outmanned and frequently slower opposition, and if someone got past them, then rely on the twin backstops of 6-11 Kostas Antetokounmpo and 6-8 Will Jelacic to erase any mistakes.

Then once the lead was established, go into a spread and coast home on free throws and defense.

Appleby could see the basics of how Dominican was going to attack its opposition even back then.

'We simply could not get in front of (guard) Gacoby (Jones Jr.),' said Appleby, 'but we were able to man up mostly with a little zone pressure and bother them a bit that way. Jelacic got some stuff underneath, and (forward Michael) Ferrici got some things, too. Kostas drifted to the outside a bit and took some jump shots, but he did a good job of protecting the rim.'

Brown Deer got to the foul line a lot more than the Knights did that game, hitting 19 of 31 attempts as compared to eight of 15 for Dominican. It would be an issue they would eventually rectify. Sophomore guard Jay Gentry hit 10 of 10 throws in the contest for Brown Deer. Three Knights reached double figures, led by Jones Jr. with 16, while state title game star Jake Bennett had only two points.

'For us, it was a lucky break that we played them that early,' Appleby added. 'Oftentimes, it's not who you play but when you play them, and we were lucky enough to play them early ... for both of us, we were just getting our feet wet. Then we both went to work within our conferences.'

For Dominican coach Derek Berger, it was an extension of a difficult summer and fall league slate for his still very new team. He elaborated on that in the press conference following the state title win over Cameron.

'We knew that we were going to have to play hard to make our goals come true,' he said.

And they did.