If the Whitefish Bay boys basketball team continues to play defense like it did against over-matched host and rival Nicolet on Friday night, don't be surprised if the Blue Dukes make another strong WIAA tourney run like they did when they won the state Division 2 title in 2011.
The Blue Dukes limited the Knights to just nine second half points, held them to just five field goals for the night and went on a 26-0 run in the third quarter in winning their fourth game in a row and their second of the week in an easy 62-26 decision.
Coach Kevin Lazovik said the defense all comes down to communication.
"Yes, we're doing a great job of talking to one another," he said. "That's the biggest job on defense, communicating with one another. Guys stepped up and were really flying around tonight."
The Blue Dukes cemented their third-place standing in the North Shore at 8-4 (15-5 overall). They had routed Grafton, 58-32, on Feb. 4 (see Sports Shorts) and then beat good nonconference foe Milwaukee Messmer, 61-39, in a game held Saturday (see Whitefish BayNOW.com for details).
Meanwhile, coach Paul Hepp's extremely young Knights (two sophomores and a freshman starting), fell to 0-12 in North Shore play and 3-16 overall as they lost for the seventh time in a row.
"What we've talked about most of the season," he said, "is controlling what we can control. We have to do that to give us a chance to compete this year because our margin of error is so small.
"For the better of the Homestead game (a 64-42 loss on Tuesday), we did that. We boxed out, we screened. Little things you have to do, but for some reason we didn't do them tonight."
On Nicolet's Relay for Life for Cancer Night, the Blue Dukes shot out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back, pressing and turning over the Knights at will. Nicolet would have gone the entire first period without a field goal if not for sophomore guard Jezzriah Burton's 3-pointer at the buzzer that made it 15-7 Blue Dukes.
Bay went on a 10-0 run through the middle of the second period that took it from a manageable 21-12 margin to a 31-12 chasm. Senior forward Joe Sherburne had seven of those points in a row.
The score was 34-17 at the break.
The Knights got the third quarter off to a good start on sophomore Keinann Ayers' bank shot, but then the roof would cave in on Nicolet as those would be the only points of the period for the team.
The Blue Dukes scored the final 26 points of the session, as Sherburne (a game-high 17 points) would have seven points of the run. A timeout was called at the 1:59 mark and the benches started to be emptied.
Jake Casey had nine points, Isaiah Johnson eight and Miles Sigh seven as 11 different players found the hoop for Bay. Ayers had nine and Gregg Pigg, who had entered the game averaging 19 points a contest for the Knights, was held to seven.
"Bay is a very talented team with good discipline," Hepp said. "To compete against that we had to make our margin of error as small as possible and for some reason we didn't have the heart to do that tonight."
For Lazovik, whose team held Grafton to just 32 points in a Tuesday win, the next challenge is a visit to nonconference power Messmer at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.
"We made sure we knew where Pigg was all the time," Lazovik said. "We also did a great job protecting the basket, focusing and working hard.
"We just want to keep this momentum going. Every win will help us (in the WIAA seeding)."
Mitch Rogers was cited for providing a lift off the bench. His third-quarter 3-pointer was roundly cheered by his teammates.
Bay is in the midst of a six-game road trip to end the regular season. The Blue Dukes will be at Cedarburg on Friday in a North Shore tilt. Meanwhile, Nicolet hosts Milwaukee Lutheran in a North Shore tilt at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. WIAA D2 sectional seeding meetings for both teams is this weekend.
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