Oak Creek boys basketball coach Mike Jossie wouldn't go as far as saying his team almost forgot how to play in the two-week hiatus the Knights had between the Franklin game on Dec. 13 and their two contests in the Go America Classic at Carthage College on Dec. 28 and 30, but there was definitely some rust that had to be shook off.
And the Knights did it in fairly impressive fashion, as they rode a strong defensive effort to beat Lakeshore Christian, 51-25, on Dec. 28 and then came back Dec. 30 and rode forward Drew Yetka's 33 points to a 66-55 win over Westosha Central.
Knight coach Mike Jossie viewed the results as mostly positive.
"We'll take the 2-0 record here," he said, "but that break was very long, and we were very sluggish in that first game (against Lakeshore). The final score was OK, but we were not well-prepared."
But they were prepared enough to end the 2016 portion of the season with a six-game winning streak and a 7-1 overall record. They have a heady slate of Southeast Conference games coming up, including at Racine Horlick on Friday, Jan. 6, and at home against Racine Case on Tuesday, Jan. 10.
"We proved this past week we can't sleep on anyone," Jossie said. "Horlick will provide us with all kind of match-up problems, and Case may have the best player in the conference."
But Jossie also has a player who is a strong early-season contender for Southeast Player of the Year in 6-5 senior forward Drew Yetka. He scored 25 of his 33 points in the first half against Westosha, as the Knights took a 32-24 lead and then held the Falcons at bay the rest of the way.
"He also had five assists and close to 10 boards, too," Jossie said. "Drew is definitely not a secret anymore. He struggled a bit on Wednesday (against Lakeshore). You could say that he had lost a bit of an edge there, but he had it back on Friday (against Westosha). Everyone can see what he's doing. He's no longer a nidden commodity."
The Knights were actually down, 20-13, in the first half but closed the session on a 19-4 run to take the lead for good.
"I thought we played really well in the second half," Jossie said. "We focused on trying to exploit some mismatches, and I think we did a pretty good job of that. At the end, they hit a couple of big 3-pointers, and we missed some front ends of the bonus, and that helped make the game a little closer. After the first 10 minutes, I thought the game went really well."
Jakup Sinani helped out with 11 points.
Against Lakeshore Christian, Oak Creek's defense was sound, as the Knights broke out to a 23-6 first-half lead. The offense loosed up a little bit, and though Christian scored a bit more, the Knights were never really threatened.
"They hit a few shots in the second half we shouldn't have allowed," Jossie said. "We sort of slogged our way through this one."
Joey Zietlow led the way with 18, while Sinani had 12 and Yetka 8.
Oak Creek shot and made only two free throws in the game.
"Going forward, we'll need to to get some better shots, and we really can't give up any transition baskets or offensive rebounds either," Jossie said. "If we do that, we should have some happy locker rooms in the near future."