Back-to-back three-game weeks, including two Saturday showcase contests in a row, are part of the price of fame the Brown Deer boys basketball team pays for its back-to-back D3 state titles in 2014 and 2015.
The Falcons are a wanted commodity.
So the thrilling 62-59 win Brown Deer pulled out over host Homestead in the John Chekouras Classic on Feb. 4 at the end of those two weeks allowed coach Kelly Appleby to take a deep breath.
That was because the Falcons had just finished out a seven-day stretch that included a 67-64 Woodland Conference victory over Greendale the night before on Feb. 3 and another Woodland win over Tosa West, 96-78, over Tosa West on Jan. 31.
"It's interesting," Appleby said. "We had those Saturday showcases (the Luke Homan at Brookfield Central on Jan. 28, too). They're nice, but they make it tough on team like us who like to run. It can really be an endurance challenge for us."
Especially when a team like Brown Deer is down starting point guard Damon Jackson, who missed the Homestead game because of the flu.
The Falcons, who started the week at 9-3 in Woodland East play and 13-5 overall, didn't have much time to rest as they had a big game against East Division leader Whitnall (10-1) on Feb. 7 and then will turn around and head to Cudahy on Friday, Feb. 10.
"I'm comfortable with where we are right now," Appleby said. 'We have some tough teams ahead of us, but the challenge is good for us."
The challenge Homestead presented not only had to do with the absence of Jackson but also with a large size advantage the Highlanders enjoyed. Brown Deer compensated by having senior guard Jalen Greenlee hit five 3-pointers, including three in the first half, as the Falcons built a 32-21 advantage before settling on a 34-28 lead at the break.
Brown Deer began to fatigue late in the second half but caught several breaks, as despite numerous putback opportunities, the Highlanders missed many inside shots.
"That's the way it's been going for us the last few games," said Homestead coach Sean Crider. "If you can't shoot well, you can't win games. In situations like that, our margin for error is small, so anytime we miss a box-out or not get a loose ball, the mistake is magnified."
Brown Deer didn't help itself either by missing out on some easy layups off of press-break situations.
The Highlanders finally got within three at 62-59, with 11.7 seconds left on a basket by Garrett Mitman. The Falcons missed the front end of the subsequent bonus, and Homestead hurried the ball down the floor.
But a good look at a game-tying 3-pointer came up just a little short.
"Give them credit (Homestead)," Appleby said. "They didn't quit, and we had a little bit of a problem finishing. We needed to convert on those breaks."
Still, the Falcons survived, as Greenlee finished with 25 points, Jay Gentry 15 and Jaylon Gentry, who stepped into start for Jackson, had 7. Appleby said Jaylon Gentry did a great job considering the circumstances.
Against Greendale, Brown Deer trailed, 33-32, at the half but rallied for the win.
Jay Gentry had one of those games he's become famous for with 30 points and four rebounds, while Jackson had 12 and Greenlee 9. Brown Deer hit 15 of 23 free throws as opposed to 6-of-8 for Greendale. Jackson hit 8 of 9 free throws.
Against Tosa West, Brown Deer took a 47-34 halftime lead and held the Trojans at arm's length the rest of the way.The Falcons put an impressive five players in double figures, led by Greenlee with 26, Jay Gentry with 23, Jaylon Gentry with 14, Jackson with 12 and Johnny Saengphonphakdy with 11.
Brown Deer hit 14 3-pointers in this game, as Greenlee, Jaylon and Jay Gentry had four apiece.