February 25, 2021 – Germantown, WI – The West Bend East Cinderella run came to an end Thursday night against Menomonee Falls as the Suns lost on a last second basket; final score 58-56.
This sectional game certainly lived up to the stakes on the line, with the Suns bringing a truly inspired performance. Neither team assumed true offensive control, as it was more a battle of defensive wills.
The Suns excelled on defense, stopping numerous lay-ups and shots put up mere feet from the basket. The blocked shots were an amazing display of the Suns’ grit and defensive scheming.
After a lot of back-and-forth, the Phoenix took the lead, 27-24, heading into halftime after a buzz-beating three pointer.
Menomonee Falls got a bit of a run going to start the second half, although the team never extended its lead into double digits.
Combine that with the Suns being nearly flawless at the free-throw line and managing to draw fouls from the Phoenix, West Bend East kept the balance from shifting totally to Menomonee Falls.
Despite the amazing team effort from the Suns, the Phoenix were able gain and hold possession until taking one last shot that broke a 56-56 tie with just 1.4 seconds left in regulation.
Menomonee Falls leading scorer was junior Grant Martin with 18 points, all coming from beyond the three-point arc. West Bend East’s top scorer was senior George Seaman with 19 points.
Suns head coach Charles Ruffing was heartbroken postgame. “I am at a loss for words, when you get that close in a game like this, even as a Cinderella, it’s still extremely painful,” he said. “I could never be prouder of these seniors for what they did for this program especially in the first year of this (the new coaching staff’s) system.”
Ruffing spoke fondly of the effort and commitment from his seniors. “They (the seniors) helped take the program to a whole other level; we (West Bend East) are a smaller Division 1 team that took Menomonee Falls (a Division 2 team) down to the wire and that’s a credit to our seniors.”
The biggest takeaway for Ruffing after his first season as a head coach is the “need to be true to myself as a coach and person; the number one thing is letting people know how much you care about them.”
That bond, Ruffing said, allowed the team to “overcome adversity and make the sectional round for the first time in about 20 years.”
Menomonee Falls will face off against Kimberly in the Division 1 Sectional Final on February 27 at Kimberly.