When Wauwatosa West led Greendale 17-5 after the first quarter in Friday's Woodland Conference West Division boys basketball game, few would have expected the thrilling end to what turned out to be a hard-fought, 61-56 victory for the Trojans.
West led 36-21 at halftime and 45-34 after the third quarter, but the fourth quarter almost proved to be the Trojans' undoing.
After West's Andre Carroll scored 2 points to increase his team's lead, the Panthers caught fire and Greendale's Jordan Perez became virtually unstoppable.
Perez gets 4-point play
He put up 2 points for the Panthers before sinking a 3-pointer. Teammate Jack Ringelberg shot a 3 of his own before Perez sunk another 3 while being fouled. He then promptly hit the free throw to finish the four-point play and make it a 50-48 game.
'I just wanted to pick up my teammates,' Perez said after the game. 'I knew we had to come back and just fight for it and give it everything we had. I just felt it, I don't know, something just took over me.'
Trojans head coach Chad Stelse said: 'Offensively, they're such a talented group, and we told them at halftime, you can't rest against these guys. They're capable of having huge quarters, so I give them credit, and especially Jordan, for going to work in the second half. We didn't have many answers for him.'
West's Blake Harvey kept the Trojans ahead with a basket, but Perez repaid that with extensive interest. He dropped a free throw to finish a 3-point play after being fouled while scoring, and after an empty possession from West, scored a rebound basket to give the Panthers their first lead of the game.
That lead didn't last long, however, as a 3-pointer from Steffan Brown gave the Trojans the lead again at 55-53. From then out, West put the ball in Brown's hands as much as possible.
Perez scored one more 3 for Greendale, but Brown sunk all six of his free throws to finish out the game and give the Trojans the victory.
Coach enjoys comeback
'I was disappointed in our start,' Greendale coach Ryan Johnsen said, 'but at no point did I think we weren't going to win the game. We believe and we fight for 32 minutes, and it showed. We came back, had an incredible comeback, fell a bit short against a great team like Tosa West.
'You can't get yourself in that hole, but I'm proud of that effort. If we give that effort the way we gave the last 12 minutes, we're going to be a dangerous team the rest of the way.'
The first quarter started out well for the Trojans. Brown, Zach Veit, Carroll and Harvey all scored before David Pulizos put up Greendale's first points.
The Trojans outscored the Panthers 19-16 in the second quarter, but the Panthers gained some momentum in the third quarter, outscoring the Trojans 13-9 and setting up the dramatic finish.
'It just shows that we can beat anybody,' Perez said, 'and if we just come with that mind-set that we came with in the second half, it just shows what we can do.'
Johnsen added: 'We're right there. We're a big improvement from where we were a year ago. We expected to do this, with the way Jordan puts in his hard work, the way all those kids in that locker room put in their hard work. We've got a lot of season left, and we like where we're heading.'
Perez scored a game-high 29 points, while Carroll and Brown both had 16 for the Trojans.
Greendale fell to 7-4 in the Woodland Conference and 10-5 overall. The Panthers welcome Whitnall at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Franklin at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.