January continues to be a very good month for the Brown Deer boys basketball team, as the Falcons routed South Milwaukee (84-43) on Jan. 13 and then came back just a day later to pick an important nonconference victory over Wisconsin Lutheran (68-64) on Jan. 14.
The Falcons were able to do this despite the fact they were without 6-7 starting forward Johnny Saengphonphakdy, who was injured in practice earlier in the week.
"It was a good game, a good win," said coach Kelly Appleby of the Lutheran victory. "When I walked into that gym, I thought that this would be a a really nice game. I'd never been in that place, and it's just a nice traditional high school gym with a great atmosphere, and with it being back-to-back games for us, I sort of anticipated it being a good one
"And it was."
The triumph made it five wins in two weeks in January for the Falcons, who improved to 5-2 in Woodland Conference East play and 8-3 overall. The four-time East Division champions are still chasing Whitnall (6-0), but Whitnall is trying to work through an injury to all-state guard Tyler Herro that will will hold the Wisconsin recruit out for several weeks at least.
Whitnall gave the Falcons their last loss on Dec. 20, and the rematch will be Feb. 7 at Whitnall.
In the interim, the Falcons will have a week full of semester exams and then will host Greenfield on Friday, Jan. 20. They beat the Hustlin' Hawks, 86-70, on Jan. 4.
Against Lutheran, the Falcons fell behind, 32-29, at the break.
"It was always a plus two or minus two kind of game," Appleby said, "but we got out ahead at just the right time. We were able to hit a few shots, take care of the ball and hit free throws."
Damon Jackson converted a three-point play with about 1:10 to go, and then two bonus free throws by Jalen Greenlee gave the Falcons a cushion they rode out to the buzzer.
Junior guard Jay Gentry continued to be a major force as his 26 points led all scorers.
"He's just a tough cover for anybody right now," Appleby said. "He's really asserting himself as a player. He also creates for others, too. Up and down, he has the stats. He just really does it all. Just a tough match."
Jackson added 18 points, while Jaylon Gentry added 10 and Greenlee 7. Brown Deer helped itself with 16 of 25 free throws. Wisco helped Brown Deer out by hitting only 4 of 15 free throws.
Appleby was happy to get the game. With the 18-game Woodland schedule, opportunities for good nonconference games are rare, and the Falcons were happy to seize upon a chance to play Wisco.
"For a moment, at this point in our schedule, I thought it would be nice to have something of a walkover," Appleby said, "but this is exactly what we needed."
The night before was exactly the opposite for the Falcons, as they broke out to a 48-25 lead at the half against South Milwaukee and then cruised to the finish line.
A total of 10 Brown Deer players scored, as the Falcons rained down 14 3-pointers against the Rockets.
Jackson hit four 3-pointers and scored 23 points to lead the way, while Jay Gentry had 13 points and two 3s; Reese Drake 11 points on three 3s; and Greenlee 10 points on two treys. Dominique Carr came off the bench to add 9 points, and Tejhuan Palmer tossed in 7.
"It was still a divisional game," Appleby said, "so we challenged them to go in there, get a comfortable lead and play well. They did that."