Waterford and Union Grove players box each other out during last Friday’s Southern Lakes Conference contest. (Rick Benavides/SLN)


By Tim Wester

Sports Correspondent

Sometimes the simplest of halftime adjustments make the difference.

After watching his team give up six 3-pointers in the first half against Waterford, Broncos coach Dave Pettit told his team at halftime to stay on their feet when closing out on the Wolverine shooters.

And with those few words of wisdom, the Broncos held Waterford to just six field goals in the second half and cruised to a 61-48 victory Friday, Jan. 5 in Union Grove.

Jack Pettit led the offense with 23 points and six assists, while Riley Hale added 17 points and seven rebounds to help the Broncos win their fourth straight Southern Lakes Conference game.

“Waterford made six three-pointers in the first half and only six total field goals in the second half, so we did a much better job closing out,” Dave Pettit said. “In the first half we were leaving our feet on our closeouts and they’d just dribble around us and then kick out to an open shooter. “

“At halftime I told the team to stay on your feet and get your hands up.”

Pettit’s instructions followed the Wolverines’ strong shooting first half that saw the Wolverines drain six of their nine 3-pointers. Richie LePine buried four triples for Waterford, while Paul Schmidt had two more.

The Broncos, however, quickly improved their defensive technique, and opened the second half on a 19-5 run to turn a 29-26 halftime lead to a 48-31 lead.

Pettit and Hale helped ignite the run with key transition baskets against the Wolverine press.

“Our defense really played well in the second half,” Pettit said. “But we also were able to get baskets in transition and forced them to call an early timeout.”

The Wolverines never drew closer than 11 the rest of the way, thanks in part to the Broncos shooting 50 percent from the field (13 for 26) and 3 of 6 from three-point range.

“Jack and Riley both had good games attacking their press and getting open looks,” Pettit said.

Sophomore forward Sam Rampulla, who adds much-needed length in the lane with his 6-foot-5 frame, added nine points and four rebounds, and provided an important presence defensively.

“Sam had nine points, but I felt like he could’ve had more,” Pettit said. “He stepped up and contested shots defensively and he’s becoming more important every game. We could use 10 points and 5-10 rebounds a game from Sam and he has the ability to do it.”

The Broncos will need to continue developing their inside-out game as the season progresses. The Broncos host struggling Lake Geneva Badger tonight before hosting Shorewood in non-conference action on Tuesday.

Then it’s a tough stretch of conference games that includes a trip to Westosha Central and a home contest with Burlington.

“The Lakes race is still coming into shape,” Pettit said. “Westosha Central is really good, and Burlington still has enough pieces to contend even though they lost Nick Klug for the season.”

“And there’s us and Elkhorn in contention as well,” Pettit added. “Hopefully everyone will beat up on each other so nobody, unless it’s us, runs away with the race.”

The unpredictable Southern Lakes Conference race could be as interesting as ever this winter.