Ever since its successful road trip in December, the Oak Creek boys basketball team has been waiting and working for an opportunity to get a Southeast Conference win.
Close calls and disappointments followed through four frustrating games.
Until Jan. 31, when the Knights played their traditionally stout defense, hit key free throws and generally made the plays they needed to in pulling off a 46-43 overtime win over error-prone host and rival Franklin.
"We're never ever going to get any style points for the way we play," said Oak Creek coach Mike Jossie. "We just do what we have to do. The coaches and the players understand that and now I get to go into the locker room and celebrate with some very happy kids."
Franklin (8-9 overall) rebounded to defeat Racine Horlick by two points on Friday to improve to 7-3 in conference (one game behind first-place Racine Park), while Oak Creek (6-10) lost a two-point game to Racine Case to drop to 2-8 in SEC play.
Against Oak Creek, Franklin shot eight of 24 from the field in the first half, shot 4 of 13 overall from the foul line and had costly turnovers.
"The bottom-line is execution," said Franklin coach Tim Hogan. "Not just during crunch time but during the course of the entire game. We just made so many simple mental mistakes. ... I think we have to have some kind of wake-up call and get out of this funk that we're in.
"I hope it comes sooner or later, because the kind of mistakes we're making you expect to see in the fifth or sixth game, but not (now)."
Franklin trailed for most of the game but a 5-0 run capped by a short rainbow baseline jumper by Brett Ksobiech (17 points) with 2:16 left in regulation gave them a 37-36 advantage.
Over the next two-plus minutes, both teams stumbled but neither team took advantage. The only scoring was Jonathan Breen's free throw with 34 seconds left that tied the score for Oak Creek. Breen led all scorers with 20 points.
It did not help the Sabers' cause that point guard Nick Kriesel, who spent most of the first half on the bench with two fouls, disqualified himself with three more fouls in quick succession in the first half of the fourth quarter.
After both sides missed good chances in the final 15 seconds, the Sabers' Shaun Quirk almost provided the fans with a moment that certainly would have made ESPN if it had worked.
With just .1 of a second left, a teammate made a full-court pass and as if playing volleyball, Quirk lifted his fist and tipped it backward, the only maneuver he had time for.
The ball went straight at the basket, banging off the glass and coming precariously close to going in.
It was a bad omen for the Sabers.
In the overtime, the teams tied twice more before Breen gave the Knights the lead for good with two free throws at the 1:01 mark.
The Sabers got two looks at the basket in the next possession but couldn't capitalize. The Knights couldn't press the advantage either, missing the front end of a bonus situation immediately afterward.
Franklin had another opportunity, but then committed a turnover at mid-court with Oak Creek's Terrence Garner snagging the ball. Casey Magyar then made one of two free throws to boost the lead to 44-41 with 13 seconds to go.
The Sabers took a timeout, but then committed their third and final turnover of the overtime session with just 10 seconds remaining. Breen knocked down two more charity tosses with eight seconds to go and that was the game.
"This is huge," said Breen. "We've been in every game (in conference play) and finally we kicked down the door and beat the No. 2 team in the conference. We were so ready for this to happen and we're glad that it finally did."
"Every time we got up, it seemed that they would come back," said Jossie. "We gave up a few more transition buckets than I would have liked, and they killed us on the boards in the first half.
"But Jonathan (Breen) played great and Terrence (Garner), who had been struggling with his shot, made some key plays down the stretch.
"We also had four sophomores gain a lot of experience in a big game. Everyone is just starting to believe in what we're doing."
Garner added 11 points for Oak Creek, while Chad Kanugh had nine and Kriesel eight for the Sabers.
Oak Creek was at Kenosha Bradford (3-7) - a team also trying to stay out of the basement in the SEC - on Tuesday, while Franklin hosted Muskego (3-7).
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Bat boy Jahnke provides extra inspiration for Franklin baseball team
- Ignitors softball team takes second in national tourney
- Baseball: Errors ruin Franklin baseball team's chance at WIAA state championship
- Baseball: Franklin strikes early, rolls past Plymouth in state semifinal
- Fortman pitches Franklin past Greenfield in regional championship
- Sports Notes: July 16, 2015
- Franklin baseball team pulls out three narrow victories to close regular season
- Franklin baseball team continues on hot streak with three more victories
- Franklin baseball team creeping back into Greater Metro Conference race
- Franklin baseball team takes advantage of walks to upset Creek, 12-8