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Sports Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, January 8, 2009

Bulldogs get a much-needed win at home, Sikule has strong game

By Jordan J. Michael

BERNE –– The Berne-Knox Westerlo boys’ basketball team faced a must-win game on Tuesday night, after starting the season 1-5.

Paolo Audino, a regular starter for the Bulldogs, was out with a broken nose as the team welcomed Sharon Springs to the Dog Pound.

“With Audino out, I was a little nervous,” said Head Coach Andy Wright. “Sharon Springs had size and has showed much improvement. All that aside, I wouldn’t have taken anything but a win.”

BKW’s last home game was a one-point loss to Schoharie on Dec. 23. “That loss got us down a little bit, so we needed to get back on track tonight,” Wright said, on Tuesday.

The Spartans led after the first half, but the Bulldogs had a strong second half to take the victory, 64 to 53. “We shut them down in the second half,” said Wright. “Overall, we needed to gain our confidence back.”

The Bulldogs were healed by the one-two punch of Dave Sikule and Ryan LaBelle. Sikule finished the night with 28 points, five rebounds, six assists, and six steals. LaBelle added another 20 points, along with four rebounds.

“Sikule has composure that most kids his age don’t have,” Wright said. “LaBelle is explosive and can blow right by anyone. No one has really stopped him yet.”

Tale of two halves

LaBelle started the Bulldog scoring with a nice jumper to the right of the key and Sikule added a lay-up shortly after. However, the Spartans were showing good defense. BKW was its own worst enemy, missing a handful of shots.

Sharon Springs had a 13-to-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs clawed their way back in the second quarter and eventually had a one- point lead with two minutes left. Jake Tambasco had one of his four steals and took it back for an easy score.

Sean Loucks gave BKW the lead, 17-16, with a made free throw, after LaBelle and Sikule missed consecutive three-point shots. The Spartans’ Doug Ullman made four quick points to give Sharon the lead, 20 to 17.

Sikule tried to lay in his own miss as the buzzer sounded, but it wouldn’t fall and the Spartans had a 20-to-17 lead at halftime. The first half was a struggle for both teams.

“You can’t miss that many shots on your home floor,” said Wright. “Sharon Springs had two big guys down low that were giving us fits. We identified that we needed to help the inside defense more in the second half.”

The Bulldogs put the backburners on in the second half with heightened intensity and five three-pointers, four of those coming from Sikule. James Schager added five rebounds and a steal.

“Schager was real important for us on the boards in the second half,” Wright said. “He’s a real strong guy that can surprise you with his play.”

BKW took the lead with 4:10 remaining in the third quarter after LaBelle sank a three-point bucket. Sikule’s three with three minutes left gave the Bulldogs a 32-to-30 lead. BKW wouldn’t look back after that.

Sikule closed out the third quarter with another three from beyond the arc, giving the Bulldogs a 41-to-36 lead. BKW pulled away, but Sharon Springs would hang tough for a while longer.

Sikule kicked off the fourth quarter with yet another three-point shot. He then had two consecutive steals that ended in baskets at the other end. Schager added a three-point play and Sikule sunk another three that would be the dagger for the Spartans.

The Bulldogs had a 56-to-47 advantage with 3:20 remaining in regulation play. Justin Coon dropped in a jumper from the corner and LaBelle completed a three-point play of his own. Sharon Springs tried to slow the game down with fouls, but to no avail.

BKW looked pleased with the 64-to-53 victory. LaBelle and Sikule combined for 48 points on the night. Ullman was the Spartans’ top scorer with 17 points.

“My juniors had never beaten Sharon at any level of basketball,” said Wright. “This was very significant to them. My seniors still haven’t lost to them. It’s an odd parallel.”

Wright told The Enterprise that his team needs to work on some things, like weak side rebounding and trickier passing on offense.

“We don’t drive the basket and kick it out, we just drive and shoot,” he said. “Sometimes my guys are standing around watching. We need to move our feet more.”

The Bulldogs are 2-5 heading into a tough game at Schenectady Christian on Friday. “We went there last year and shocked them on their home floor,” Wright said. “It would be nice to do that again.”

“We’ll enjoy the win over Sharon tonight but its back to business tomorrow,” said Wright. “There’s no time for sleep in the Western Athletic Conference.” 

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