By PAUL HINES
The Devils used their dominating inside force Justin Kulich to beat Waltonville 56-44 Tuesday night.
Kulich, a 6-6 senior, finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the game to lead Sesser-Valier to the victory. He scored 25 of his points in the second half.
“Defensively, we didn’t want to work at it tonight,” Waltonville coach Brian Gamber said. “(We) didn’t guard, weren’t smart, didn’t pay attention to stuff. I mean that can happen. (Kulich) is a monster.
“Credit to them, they pounded it in the post. Our guys were late on the double.”
Trey Witges and Jordan Hale both reached double figures for Waltonville.
Witges led the team with 14 points, and Hale added a dozen. Matt Rogers added seven.
Both offenses struggled early in the game. Waltonville took an 8-6 edge into the second quarter after Sesser shot just two of 13 to open the game.
“I thought we did a decent job in the first part of the game limiting them, doing a good job of challenging their perimeter shots,” Gamber said.
“We were not able to capitalize offensively.”
Both teams traded baskets throughout the second quarter as the lead bounced back and forth. Waltonville’s Trey Witges ended the half with a spinning layup to cut the Devils lead to 19-18.
Waltonville struggled to find an offensive flow throughout the game. The Spartans were shorthanded in the first half after three starters – Rogers, Hale and Levi Laird - went to the bench for long periods with two fouls each.
“That hurts. That’s part of the game,” Gamber said. “We have to be able to adjust to that. We have to have guys step out. Our bench did a decent job coming in there.”
After halftime the Devil funneled nearly every offensive possession through Kulich. He missed his opening shot from the field in the second half but didn’t miss again, hitting 10 straight field goals. He also made 11 trips to the foul line in the final two quarters.
“Up until tonight, we played pretty well on that end,” Gamber said. “But for whatever reason tonight we just didn’t have good effort defensively.”
Sesser steadily increased its lead throughout the third quarter and took a 35-27 edge into the final period. Kulich put the Devils up double digits at 41-30 with five minutes left in the game. Sesser moved its advantage to 16 in the final minute of action.
Waltonville is 18-6 this season.