After a season that can best be described as up-and-down, the Greendale boys basketball team hoped a big victory over Pius XI last week would establish some momentum.
The Panthers tipped the Popes, 57-56, on Feb. 17 behind 18 points and six rebounds from Tommy Kujawa, 12 points by Zach Harrison, 11 points — with a trio of 3-point field goals — by Andrew Sodemann and 7 points and 10 boards from Clay Kujawa.
"Andrew hit some big threes off the bench," coach Ryan Johnsen said, "and Zach gave us some fine defensive play as well."
Greendale opened a 35-23 halftime lead, then held on as the Popes made a big run in the second half. Greendale was nursing a 1-point lead when Clay Kujawa went in for a layup, but his shot was blocked. Pius ended up with a half-court try that missed as the buzzer sounded.
"We played a good game all around," Johnsen said. "We played really good defense in the first half."
Greendale, which had lost to Pius, 58-48, in the first meeting, moved to 4-11 in the Woodland Conference and 9-12 overall.
"The kids are continuing to buy in," Johnsen said. "We have to find new ways to keep pushing ourselves. We needed a win like this to get over the hump and give us momentum and belief. When we play good defense and take care of the ball, we can play with anybody."
Greendale opens WIAA Division 2 regional play at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 28, at home against St. Anthony. The winner plays at Catholic Memorial at 7 p.m. Friday, March 3.