East Troy High School junior Ryan Nixon scores in the Jan. 21 home game against Jefferson. The boys are undefeated in the Rock Valley Conference. (Eric Kramer photo)

Boys run up the score boards

By Dan Truttschel

Correspondent

The East Troy High School boys basketball team continues to put up gaudy offensive numbers.

And in three games this past week, those numbers just kept getting better.

Fresh off wins by 46 and 50 points in the first two, East Troy topped both of those with a 111-68 Rock Valley Conference victory Monday night at Brodhead-Juda.

East Troy, ranked second in Division 3 by WisSports.net, improved to 13-1 overall and 10-0 in the RVC. The Trojans continue to lead the conference standings ahead of Beloit Turner at 8-1 and Edgerton at 8-2.

While he certainly was pleased with the offense against an improved Brodhead team, East Troy coach Darryl Rayfield knows his team needs to tighten things up a bit on defense moving forward.

And that’s the challenge to his team.

“The effort’s there (defensively),” he said. “I just don’t think we have enough discipline right now to play great defense. As the old saying goes, ‘If we keep playing defense like this, it’s like dogs chasing cars,’ and we won’t last long in the tournament.

“Our energy is good, but we just have to be smarter. We have to have a little bit more discipline.”

Rayfield conceded that defensive numbers can be skewed a bit depending on the style played by the opponent.

“I’m sure we had 75 or 80 possessions (Monday),” he said. “Teams score more against us because they have more possessions if they want to play that way. … Against really good teams, you have to guard. You still have to do what you do offensively, but you have to guard.”

East Troy hung 64 points on the Cardinals in the first half en route to a 25-point lead at the intermission.

“We shot it real well,” Rayfield said. “We have a lot of ammo. We are finding guys.”

A.J. Vukovich led the way with 37 points and 17 rebounds, followed by Quinten Lottig, who had another hot shooting night with eight 3-pointers and 27 points.

Lottig, who is shooting better than 45 percent from behind the 3-point line, continues to hurt the opposition from the outside, Rayfield said.

“When he’s making shots and guys are finding him early, he’s pretty good,” he said. “The strength of this team is that each individual kid has a lot of qualities offensively. He really shoots it with range and forces guys to guard him. He’s put a lot of hard work in, and hard work beats talent most of the time.”

Ryan Nixon added 20 points for the Trojans, followed by Chase Cummings with a near triple-double, as he finished with 10 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds.

“(Cummings) was really good,” Rayfield said. “He had a really good floor game. He drove the bus. He was the guy giving guys the ball. When we’re finding guys open, we’re really good.”

The win Monday came on the heels of a 92-42 win over visiting Clinton on Jan. 24.

And the Trojans never missed a step without Vukovich in the lineup, as he was at his official college visit to NCAA Division I Louisville, where he is a baseball recruit.

Lottig poured in a game-high 28 points for the Trojans, who led 57-27 at halftime, followed by Cummings with 21, Nixon and Colin Terpstra with 13 points and Michael Rosin with 11.

“We play a little differently when (Vukovich) isn’t in there,” Rayfield said. “In the bigger games, when he’s out there, he has to get a touch. Our guys have played a lot without him, so that confidence for them has helped us.”

East Troy, which beat Jefferson 87-41 to open the week, returns to action Thursday night at Big Foot.

With a rematch against Turner still two weeks away, Rayfield knows this is the time of the year when things become a bit tougher.

But now it’s time to really buckle down, make the corrections that need to be made and get ready for the stretch run, he said.

“It gets tricky this time of year,” Rayfield said. “You know you have to get better defensively, and that’s a lot of hard work. You have to watch out for their legs. As we turn the page into February, everything gets a little bit tighter and a little bit tougher.”

 
 

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