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Custer's last stand
Times photo: Anthony Wahl Monroes Michael Barrett (23) rises above Milwaukee Custers Frank Williams for a jumpshot during the 2010 Holiday Classic held at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Field House Tuesday afternoon. The Cheesemakers defeated Custer 70-50.
MADISON - Monroe sophomore Alex Barenklau understands that the number of help-side defensive rotations, box outs and floor burns aren't official statistics in the scoring book.

However, Barenklau and the Cheesemakers put on a defensive clinic in the second half en route to a 70-50 win over Milwaukee Custer in the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Holiday Classic at the UW-Field House Tuesday.

The Cheesemakers (8-0, 5-0 Badger South), ranked No. 2 in the Division 2 Coaches Poll, turned up the defensive pressure in the second half that led to some instant offense to break open a game that was tied at 32 at halftime. The Cheesemakers outscored the Cougars 21-6 in the third quarter. Barenklau was right at the center of the defensive surge. He drilled a 3-pointer and came away with two steals and hit two free throws to help the Cheesemakers open up a 43-36 lead midway through the third quarter.

"Against an athletic team you have to stop the ball before they get to you," Barenklau said. "(Michael) Turek always has a lot of bounce and we got on the break. We are pretty good finishing layups on the break."

Monroe coach Pat Murphy preaches the staples of defense and the Cheesemakers were dominant at doing the little things right to shut down the Cougars in the second half.

"We didn't buy in during the first half," Murphy said of the Cheesemakers' defense. "We were scoring so easy, it's like we thought we could just outscore them. I'm glad we found it in the second half."

Murphy was excited to have Barenklau step up as a playmaker and have the offensive balance with four players in double figures. Monroe senior Michael Barrett scored 18 points and senior Bryan Tordoff had 16. Barenklau scored 13 points and senior Andrew Armstrong chipped in 11.

"It's nice to have Barenklau aggressive and ready to make a play," Murphy said. "We can't have Bryan and Michael do it all the way they have been."

Barrett, after a couple of shot fakes, hit a turnaround jumper that gave the Cheesemakers a 45-36 lead with about 3 minutes left in the third quarter. Armstrong scored down low and was fouled with 27.1 seconds left in the third quarter. He converted the traditional three-point play by knocking down the free throw to give the Cheesemakers a 51-38 lead.

"We did a good job in the second half of closing gaps," Barrett said. "Everyone stepped up. We know whenever we can control the tempo we can win the game."

The Cougars wanted to push the ball and get out on the break, while the Cheesemakers looked to execute in the halfcourt. The Cheesemakers opened the game with an 11-2 run sparked by Tordoff's two 3-pointers and a basket down low by junior Austin Burandt. Barrett closed the first quarter scoring on a putback after an offensive rebound to give the Cheesemakers a 17-8 lead.

The Cougars got off to a rough start with six first quarter turnovers and 3-for-9 shooting. They went on an 11-2 run to start the second quarter to tie the game. Milwaukee Custer senior Wayman Newman and senior DeMario Pritchard drilled 3-pointers to kick-start the run. Milwaukee Custer junior Frank Williams scored on a putback after an offensive rebound to tie the game at 19. Milwaukee Custer junior Akeem Sayo drained a 3-pointer about midway through the second quarter to give the Cougars a 22-20 lead. Sayo made three 3-pointers in the second quarter to spark the Cougars.

Murphy said sometimes scouting reports can be thrown out the window.

"We wanted to keep them from driving," Murphy said. "He (Sayo) hasn't hit that shot in any game this year. They came here with a purpose too - to win."

The Cheesemakers were honored to play in the WBCA Classic on the UW-Field House stage.

"You get the invitation to some of these games because of the success of other teams we have had," Murphy said. "This team is setting the tone for some of the kids in middle school. It's exciting to play a team from a city conference."

Monroe is hosting the T.C. Winter Basketball Classic at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at the high school. The alumni basketball tournament this year was renamed the T.C. Winter Basketball Classic in honor of Monsignor Thomas Campion who died Nov. 12.

"It's another way we can honor T.C. through basketball," Murphy said. "It should be entertaining."