In practice, Scott Luetschwager's players are gamers.
Sometimes, the Wauconda boys coach can't believe how competitive even a simple drill gets.
"I think they really enjoy competing against each other," Luetschwager said of his players. "There's a pride there that they have with each other. They've grown up playing against each other since they were really little. They just go really hard in practice."
Sometimes the Bulldogs go harder in practice than they go in games.
This is where Luetschwager has to scratch his head.
If a player is going to pick a place to ease up, usually it will be practice. The Bulldogs seem to be doing just the opposite. They are relentless in practices, but then sometimes lose that edge in games.
"I can't explain it," Luetschwager said. "We tell the kids we have to play harder than we practice and right now, we're practicing harder than we play. It's odd."
On Monday, the Bulldogs began to fall into their usual pattern against visiting Woodstock North. They were careless with the ball early and ran up 14 first-half turnovers, some of which led to easy baskets for the Thunder on the other end.
But somehow the second half looked much more like a practice for the Bulldogs. And practice made for a perfect ending as Wauconda wound up cruising to a 47-30 nonconference victory over Woodstock North.
The Bulldogs have now won three games in a row and improve to 4-5.
"We were just sluggish and slow in the first half, and we came out with a lot more energy in the second half," said Wauconda senior guard Austin Swenson, who scored a game-high 16 points, including two 3-pointers. "The more aggressive we are, it just gets the adrenaline going and that gets us excited."
The Bulldogs began their transformation in the second quarter. They held Woodstock North to just 3 points, and took a 21-18 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The intensity was dialed up even more in the second half as the Bulldogs outscored Woodstock North 14-6 in the third quarter. They then opened the fourth quarter with a 7-1 run. That gave Wauconda a 42-24 lead with less than four minutes remaining.
"We started getting some good, solid possessions and we just slowly pulled away. We maintained it," Luetschwager said. "It started defensively. We told the kids that we just needed to scrap and they did.
"There were at least six loose balls that (Woodstock North) got to before us in the first half simply because they scrapped for them. When we started scrapping, that helped us."
It also helped Wauconda that two other players nearly reached double-figures. Senior guard Devon King had 9 points and sophomore forward Ricky Sidlowski had 8 points.
For Woodstock North, which drops to 3-5, Steven Whiting and Nick Herscha finished with 15 and 11 points respectively.
"We came out the way we wanted to (leading 15-11 at the end of the first quarter)," Woodstock North coach Steve Ryan said. "We were hitting shots, we were doing a lot of nice things. But we lost all of that momentum in the second quarter and then we just had problems shooting in the second half."Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.