Originally published Friday, January 4, 2019 at 05:11a.m.

KINGMAN – The last time the Lee Williams High School basketball team took the court, it suffered a 20-point loss to Dysart on Dec. 17. The Vols put that setback in the rearview mirror and did so in convincing fashion Thursday with a 74-36 blowout of Prescott.


Lee Williams' AJ Herrera finished with 17 points Thursday night against Prescott. (Photo by Beau Bearden/Daily Miner)

“We just had a lot of energy and I felt like we wanted it more than Prescott did,” junior Kade Juelfs said. “Defensively we were flying around and having fun. That’s all it’s about – working as a team.”

Juelfs led the way for Lee Williams with a game-high 20 points, while AJ Herrera scored 17 and Drew Cardiff added 11. Cody Ferrin rounded out the top performers with 10 points off the bench.

The Vols had little issue in this one as they grabbed the momentum by outscoring the Badgers 27-9 in the first quarter.

“It definitely helps to set the tone early,” said Lee Williams head coach Cain Atkinson. “The games that we’ve struggled with this year – Dysart and Coconino – we started lackadaisical, pretty lazy and had no communication. But tonight we were focused, we were ready to go and we were energized.”

And the energy wasn’t just from one player as the Vols moved the ball around and found the hot shooter. That was Herrera in the first half as the junior tallied 15 points, including three treys.

The second half, meanwhile, belonged to Juelfs who scored eight. But he also had some help as Cardiff and Aaron Santos notched six second-half points to fuel the rout.

“I feel very, very confident and I trust the entire team to go in there and do what they’re supposed to do,” Atkinson said. “When it’s their time to try to score and get us some baskets, I trust everybody that we have to do that for us.”

Even more impressive was the fact Lee Williams never let off the gas pedal even with a 23-point halftime lead.

The Vols started the third quarter with a 6-0 run and it was apparent the No. 36 ranked Badgers (1-7, 1-3 4A Grand Canyon Region) were overmatched as they trailed 58-25 entering the final quarter.

“All year long pretty much these guys do a good job in the second half,” Atkinson said. “In the third quarter we’ve come out and refocused. Regardless of how many points we’re up or how little we’re down – whatever the score may be at halftime – we come out focused.”

The determination paid dividends as the Vols improved to 5-2, 3-1 in the 4A Grand Canyon Region. However, it’s back to business Friday night as No. 16 ranked Lee Williams hosts No. 33 ranked River Valley (2-4, 0-1 3A West Region).

“It doesn’t matter if it’s a conference game or we play River Valley, we’re going to respect them like we would any other team,” Atkinson said. “We want to come out and try to play the same way. I feel like we probably don’t get a lot of respect. So if we really want to be high-ranking as far as a state seed or whatever, we have to win games.”