WILLIAMS BAY — With 49.5 seconds left in the game, Williams Bay junior Brad Quinn hit a three point jumper. His face dripped with sweat and determination. The student section behind him erupted.
The score was 33-31 — Quinn’s shot put the Williams Bay Bulldogs within two points of the Fall River Pirates.
Fall River had controlled the first three quarters. The Bulldogs dug themselves into an early hole, going down 15-4 in the first quarter and 21-13 by halftime. But Williams Bay dominated the last eight minutes of the game.
The pressure was on. Williams Bay showed a full court press and caught Fall River in traps. They got the ball back. Lay-up. Score.
Less than 30 seconds remained and the Bulldogs stuck with the full court press.
Fall River got the ball. Foul called — charge against the Pirates. The Bulldogs regained possession with 13 seconds left to play.
Williams Bay senior Sergey Klyukuin drove to the basket and scored on a quick lay-up despite a foul from Fall River.
With 2.9 seconds left on the clock, Klyukuin missed the free throw, but Fall River was unable to find a shot.
Time expired and the Bulldogs won their first game of the season. Students rushed the court from the bleachers.
The Bulldog boys defeated the defending Trailways Conference champion Pirates 35-33, Thursday, in a come-back thriller at Williams Bay High School.
The Bulldogs got off to a slow start. Turnovers and costly fouls prevented the Bay boys from penetrating Fall River’s tough zone defense. They only scored 4 points in the first quarter.
“You know it was our first game, their second,” Bay head coach Troy Nottestad said. “You don’t want to use excuses, I just think we didn’t adjust to the speed of the game they were playing. And they’re very strong and physical.”
But the Bulldogs stayed focused.
They showed more confidence driving to the basket in the third and fourth quarters. Early on, they looked hesitant against Fall River’s tight zone defense, but by the end of the game, they had gained some confidence in the paint.
They outscored the Pirates 22-12 in the second half.
“I think we adjusted,” Nottestad said. “I think our team has a bunch of guys who are mentally tough. We have to improve on every aspect of our game, but they mentally did not allow themselves to get tired even though some of them played a lot of minutes. I think a big physical team like Fall River, I think we had them worn down by the end.”
Klyukvin had 14 points off six field goals and went two for three on free throws, all of which he scored in the second half.
Adam Lechelt, who kept the Bulldogs alive with two three pointers in the second quarter, ended the game with 10 points.
Last season, the Pirates were 19-5 (13-1 Trailways). They walked into the Williams Bay basketball court ready to face a team that last season 9-14 record (7-7 Trailways). But the Bay team they saw was much improved from last season, Nottestad said.
“You know, Fall River is ranked seven in the state,” Nottestad said. “We’ve beaten some ranked teams over the years but not many. And the first game of the season, to gut it out the way (the team) did when I’m sure a lot of people had probably had written us off. I’m very proud of them.”
Though Nottestad said that the Pirates were playing without two starters, who sat out due to injury, he said that opponents this season can expect to see a stronger Bulldog squad. But the team still needs work.
“We still have to get better at certain spots,” Nottestad said. “John Spencer was in foul trouble most of the game, and we turned it over too many times.”