Safar, bigs help awaken sluggish Demons

Grant Tully blows by a Milton defender Tuesday night for a layup. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)


By Mike Ramczyk

After limping into the postseason with two tough losses last week, the Burlington boys basketball team had the perfect opportunity to right the ship Tuesday night in a WIAA Division 2 regional quarterfinal.

But the visiting Milton Red Hawks, winless on the season, played like a team with nothing to lose.

After a slow start, the sixth-seeded Demons rode the hot hand of senior Sean Safar and pounded the ball inside to eventually pull away with a 60-50 victory.

Burlington improved to 11-12 on the season and advances to a regional final Friday at No. 3 Waukesha West (15-7).

Milton finishes its season at 0-23.

Sean Safar led the charge with 16 points, including nine in the first half, while fellow senior Brock Halbach posted 10 points and 14 rebounds and added several key assists as the Demons enjoyed strong ball movement in the half court.

Junior Trent Turzenski helped energized Burlington with monstrous slam dunks during key runs in the first and second halves.

Turzenski finished with 12 points, and the much taller Demons out-rebounded Milton, 30-17.

“If feels good on our home court,” Safar said. “It could be our last home game, and us seniors came out pretty confident.”

“We underestimated them a little bit,” Halbach added. “But then we got it rolling, and it started to go downhill.”

For head coach Steve Berezowitz, it was nice to get a win.

“We didn’t get turnovers and stops in the beginning that we needed,” Berezowitz said. “We were a little bit off in terms of what we wanted to get. We had a tough week last week, and Milton is a team that doesn’t stop. They just keep grinding. I don’t know if we met their intensity.”

“On our run, we got in transition and got some stops and some layup opportunities. When you can do that against a team like that, it puts a lot of pressure on them to be perfect.”

Milton’s Jared Brown knocked down a few 3-pointers in the first half, and the game was knotted at 14-14. But the Demons answered with a 9-0 run behind a triple from Safar along with offensive rebounds and put-back layups from Turzenski and Nick Webley.

Senior Ben McDermit added a mid-range jumper during the run, as the Demons were able to push the ball off turnovers.

Burlington senior Sean Safar scored a game-high 16 points, including two 3-pointers, Tuesday night. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

Demons amp up energy

By the third quarter, Burlington stepped on the gas pedal.

Senior point guard Grant Tully pushed the pace and found Safar for three, then Halbach sparked a series of easy layups. Catching in the high post, he hit Turzenski for two easy buckets and found a cutting Webley, and Burlington busted things wide open at 40-22 midway through the second half.

But Milton roared back with an 11-4 run fueled by hard drives to the hoop, and they were in the bonus with nine minutes left.

However, it was the Demons that benefited at the free-throw line, knocking down 16-of-22 for the game, including 14-of-20 in the second half.

In a four-minute stretch that pushed the lead back up to 20 points, Dylan Runkel and Webley each hit 4-of-4 free throws, and the game was out of reach with three minutes left.

Turzenski added his second dunk of the game for an exclamation point, igniting the home crowd and opening a 58-38 lead.

“1-0,” Halbach exclaimed after the game. “We’ve had some good practices, and I think it’s going to pay off.”

“The second season has started, and all the records don’t matter,” added Safar.

Berezowitz said Waukesha West, which hosts Burlington Friday at 7 p.m., will pose a stiff challenge.

“It’s a big thing that we’re healthy,” he said. “We haven’t been healthy. Waukesha West is very good, they’re solid, they’re big. They play a different style, so we’ll have to adjust to it.”


Toppers fall at Faith

In a WIAA Division 5 boys basketball playoff opener Tuesday night, No. 10 Catholic Central was upset-minded from the jump at No. 7 Faith Christian.

The Toppers, who beat the Eagles by four points in Burlington during the regular season, built a 19-17 halftime lead.

Faith Christian dominated the second half, outscoring the Toppers 42-22, thanks in part to a game-high 23 points from Caleb Thomas.

Cole Bechman added 14 points, and Luke Thomas scored 10.

Frank Koehnke led the Toppers with 15 points and nine rebounds, and Brandon Pum added 10.

Catholic Central shot 30 percent (17-56) from the field.

The Toppers finished the season 4-19.