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Elkhorn boys stun East Troy

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Tim Wester/Special to the Gazette
January 23, 2008
— Elkhorn High boys basketball coach John Handel said his 6-9 reserve center, Skyler O’Laughlin, made him look bad in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s battle with high-powered East Troy.

O’Laughlin made the Trojans look even worse.


After sitting out the first three quarters, O’Laughlin erupted with eight points and three blocks in the final quarter to set the stage for Eric Bryson’s game-winning three-pointer that propelled the Elks to a stunning 42-41 victory over East Troy.


When Bryson connected with two seconds left, Elkhorn snapped the Trojans’ 19-game Southern Lakes Conference winning streak. The Elks also broke East Troy’s 12-game winning streak in all games this season and dropped the state’s fourth-ranked Division 2 team to 13-2.


And there was no minimizing the significance of their big sophomore’s late contribution.


“We just held off using Skyler to the fourth quarter,” Handel said. “It was nothing that Skyler did wrong. It was just a matter of matchups, but he made me look bad, obviously, in the fourth quarter by playing so well.”


Meanwhile, O’Laughlin was just happy to get a chance.


“I just felt it was time to step up and prove to everyone that I could play,” he said. “I wasn’t sure when I was going to come in, but it was whatever the coach wanted me to do.”


O’Laughlin's inspired effort helped hand East Troy its first conference loss since falling 49-43 to Milton on Feb. 17, 2006.


The defending champion Trojans, however, remain atop the Southern Lakes with a 7-1 record, one game ahead of second-place Elkhorn (11-3, 5-2) in the loss column.


“This game was hard for me because I haven’t had to talk to the team after a loss in a little while,” said East Troy coach Darin Lottig, whose Trojans’ only previous defeat this season was to Waukesha Memorial in the second game. “Honestly, I think we’re a little more free now to play basketball because there’s less pressure on us, and we can go out and rock and roll.”


The Elkhorn gym definitely was rocking and rolling late in the fourth quarter.


After Alan Loth’s three-pointer gave the Trojans a 37-27 lead with 6:10 left, the Elks closed out the game with a 15-4 run.


O’Laughlin led the late charge with six points, including a line-drive jumper that tied the game a 39-39 with 1:17 left.


The Trojans then held possession for nearly a minute before Kyle Jones drove down the lane and drilled a short jumper to make it 41-39 with 28 seconds left.


Elkhorn patiently worked the ball around the perimeter on the ensuing possession until Bryson popped open and drained his three-pointer at the two-second mark.


“It wasn’t really a designed play,” Bryson said. “He (Handel) said to set screens and look for the best shot, and that’s what we did.”


The Trojans couldn’t get off a final shot before time expired.


“This is a signature win for our guys,” said Handel, whose Elks lost 65-48 at East Troy on Jan. 3. “They have been working hard and wanted to have a chance to play a little better than last time they played East Troy.”


The Trojans, behind Loth’s 13 second-quarter points, grabbed a 24-19 halftime lead. They extended that 10 points before the Elks finally responded.


Max Findreng paced the Elks with 14 points, while Byrson added 11. Loth led East Troy with 23.


ELKHORN 42, EAST TROY 41


East Troy (41)—Tess, 1-0-2; Jones, 2-0-5; Manschott, 2-0-5; Loth, 8-2-23; Bondar, 3-0-6. Totals: 16-2-41.


Elkhorn (42)—Gahart, 1-0-3; Olson, 1-0-2; Bryson, 4-1-11; Findreng, 6-0-14; O’Laughlin, 4-0-8; Blackbourn, 1-0-2; Lockwood, 1-0-2. Totals: 16-1-42.


East Troy 8 16 8 9—41


Elkhorn 11 8 4 19—42


Three point goals-East Troy 7 (Loth 5, Jones, Manschott), Elkhorn 5 (Bryson 2, Findreng 2, Gahart). Free throws missed-East Troy 3, Elkhorn 6. Total fouls-East Troy 14, Elkhorn 12. Fouled out-Bondar.



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