It's a thing about the Brown Deer boys basketball program.
The Falcons are always happy to see December end and January come around.
"Even when we were winning state titles (2014 and 2015), we always seemed to be around .500 for December," said coach Kelly Appleby. "We seem to drag our legs in December and then speed up when we hit January."
That thought had a strong grain of truth in it Tuesday, when the Falcons, playing their first game since a Dec. 20 loss to Whitnall, outscored visiting Whitefish Bay, 50-36, in the second half en route to a 78-61 nonconference victory.
"It had been a long layoff," Appleby said, "and we looked rustier than I thought we would in the first half. We were missing shots, missing assignments. We looked like a team that hadn't played ball in a few weeks. But we got our two bigs involved in the second half (Johnny Saengphonphakdy and Bryce Graf), and that eventually gave our guards a little more room inside to maneuver."
Including 6-0 junior powerhouse Jay Gentry, who's built like a fullback but with the moves of Barry Sanders.
He scored 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, as the Falcons (4-3) sprinted from a 28-25 advantage at the half to a 54-42 lead with 9:27 left. Gentry scored 9 points in a row for the Falcons at one point in the stretch.
"He's a very nice player," said Blue Duke coach Chris Millner, whose team fell to 3-5 overall. "He did a great job against us. We just couldn't keep him out of the paint."
There's a reason for that, Appleby said.
"Hers just a very tough match-up," he said. "He's quick but big."
From the nine-minute mark on, the lead just kept getting bigger for the Falcons, as Brown Deer worked a spread with veteran guards Gentry, Damon Jackson and Jalen Greenlee, getting the Blue Dukes out of position for frequent easy buckets. It eventually reached its peak at 72-51, with 4:10 left.
Millner, whose team is coming off a tough loss to powerful Brookfield Central last week, was disappointed his team could not maintain the defensive intensity it had in the first half.
"We missed a couple of shots early in the second half," he said, "and I think we let that affect our defense because the defensive effort we had in the first half was one of the best we've had all season."
Xavier Johnson led Bay with 15 points, Cade Garcia had 13 and Harry Grams 8.
Millner is trying to stay positive.
"We'll just continue to work on getting better," he said. "There's no reason we have to peak in November, December or January. We've got young guys, and they're hungry, and we'll get better, and then you never know what can happen come March."
Meanwhile, Appleby and the Falcons will look to use this game as a launching pad. Helping Gentry out were Greenlee with 17, Jackson with 12 and Saengphonphakdy with 9.
Appleby noted the Falcons' great effort in the 78-74 loss to state-ranked Whitnall on Dec. 20.
"I told the kids after that game that some losses can catapult you," he said. "An effort like that can affect future performances. We hoped we could use it as a springboard, and we did in the second half tonight. We really got on a roll."
Brown Deer will be at Greenfield on Wednesday in a make-up game and then will host Cudahy on Friday, Jan. 6. Meanwhile, Bay will host Milwaukee Lutheran on Friday, Jan. 6, and then will take on West Bend West at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 7, as part of the Al McGuire Classic at the McGuire Center on the Marquette University campus in Milwaukee.