December 17, 2013 | 03:48 PMWILLIAMS BAY — The Williams Bay Bulldogs dominated the fourth quarter yet again, Friday night, scoring 32 points in the final eight minutes of their 83-66 victory over Deerfield.
The Bulldogs are perfect after their first six games of the season and have emerged as the team to beat in the Trailways Conference.
“Our goal before Christmas was to be 7-0,” Williams Bay Head Coach Troy Nottestad said. “It’s been a couple (of) years since we’ve had this kind of start.”
Sergey Klyukvin led the Bulldogs with 25 points — he made eight of 10 free throws, a 3-pointer and seven of nine field goals.
“For Sergey to go out there and have 25 was nice,” Nottestad said. “The thing that I think has changed from last year to this year is his willingness to attack the basket. I think last year he kind of maybe sat around the perimeter a little more, and he’s just really changed his game and been more aggressive attacking the rim. And you can see the results.”
John Higgins had 19 points. Adam Lechelt sank two of his three shots from beyond the arc, hit three of four free throws and finished the game with 17 points.
“I would probably consider him the best shooter in the league,” Nottestad said of Lechelt. “But he also is willing to go in there and drive to the basket and either get up to the basket that way or get to the free throw line, where he shoots free throws well.”
Jonah Vanvleet added 9 points and Avery Lettenberger contributed 7. Every player on the team scored at least one basket against Deerfield.
“I wasn’t really happy at halfitime,” Bulldogs Head Coach Troy Nottestad said. “We missed some free throws, missed some layups — that stuff I can handle. I didn’t think we played as hard as we have been on defense in the first half, I thought we were kind of lazy at times. Second half, after discussing it a little bit, we tried to go up there and turn up the pressure a little bit on defense, and I think it wore them down by the end.”
At halftime the Bulldogs only led by 3 points, and by the end of the third quarter, Deerfield cut their lead to 2. The score was 51-49 at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and Williams Bay turned up the pressure for the last eight minutes of the game.
The Bulldogs have outscored opponents 113 to 61 in the fourth quarter this season. They are an athletic team, and their conditioning has paid off in late-game situations.
“I think we’re in pretty good (physical) shape right now,” Nottestad said. “I think you can just kind of see it in the way (other teams) play, in their faces in the fourth quarter. They’re just kind of… beat.”
“That allows us to get some easier buckets on offense, and on defense I think (opponents) end up making a few more turnovers and taking some shots maybe they wouldn’t. I credit our guy for working hard in practice and just being in pretty good shape right now.”
The Bulldogs talent on offense has made them a difficult team to defend — Lechelt, Klyukvin and Higgins have each scored 22 or more points in a game this season. If opponents decide try to focus on limiting the role of one player, another steps up and takes the reins.
“Right now it’s hard for teams to say ‘hey we have to stop one or two guys,’ you know,” Nottestad said. “We have different guys who can step up on a given night.”
On Friday Williams Bay will travel to Hustisford to take on the 5-2 Falcons, who are fresh off a 61-54 victory over Rio on Monday night.
Hustisford defeated the Bulldogs both times the two teams faced off last season — 57-43 on Dec. 14, 2012, and 62-48 on Jan. 31, 2013.
“Traditionally (Hustisford) hasn’t been a place where we’ve had great success,” Nottestad said. “It is a road game for us, it’ll be a good test ... with the way the conference and the league is going to end up this year, you don’t have too many chances to stub your toe, so you just have to get on the road and get another victory.”
Hustisford has outscored opponents 378-341 this season but has struggled in the fourth quarter. The Falcons have given up 119 fourth-quarter points to opponents this season while scoring only 92.
The game starts at 7:30 p.m. at Hustisford, and Nottestad is pleased with the team’s attitude.
“I think obviously, you’re 6-0, your attitude coming to practice is a little bit better, guys are on a little bit more of a high note,” Nottestad said. “I think the nice thing about this year is that they seem to all really enjoy being around each other. They maybe don’t do everything together, but we had a team dinner at my house the other night, and you know, we just had fun, and I think that team chemistry has a lot to do with team success. Right now, we have it.”