By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
Grand Valley coach Luke Strohm could not have told his players any better as to what it would take to win, and it was their inability to do what he suggested that put the Mustangs into a hole. The result was a 68-51 non-conference loss to the Lakeview Bulldogs.
“I always tell the kids that at some point in time,” Strohm said, “you have to put the ball into the hole from the floor to win games. The first half we were aggressive, and things went fairly well for us. We didn’t get the ball into the hole, though.”
The Bulldogs (2-10) were effective in getting good shots in the first half, especially in the first quarter. They grabbed a 9-2 lead midway through that first period, but the aggressiveness of GV (2-8, 2-3 in Northeastern Athletic Conference) in getting to the rim got Lakeview into foul trouble in the first half.
Grand Valley scored its first 18 points of the night from the foul line, netting 21 of 27 over the first half. They were still in the game, trailing only 36-30 at halftime.
“When we came out of the locker room after halftime and hit our first free shot,” Strohm said, “I thought we would be in good shape. Then we got clobbered on the boards, had a bunch of turnovers when Lakeview went into their 1-2-2 zone in the third period, and we lost our aggressiveness. Give them credit for executing that defense. It took us out of our comfort zone a bit, we didn’t attack as much, and we didn’t get good shots.”
Had the Mustangs made some of the excellent shot chances from the floor they got in the first half, the outcome might have been different. Instead, they netted just 12 of 42 shots for the game, a 28.5 percent clip, and even the good night from the line, ending with 25 of 36 tries, slowed down.
Josh Kovats paced the GV attack with 15 points, including 8-10 from the line. Jake Vormelker added two field goals and went 8-12 from the charity stripe. GV just missed too many layups in the whole game.
The Bulldogs attacked all night and were much sharper, hitting 25 of 59 tries for 42.3 percent, and their aggressiveness in going to the basket led to four players reaching double digits and yet another adding nine.
“It was good to have Justin Journey back tonight,” Lakeview coach Craig Wild said. Journey had been out a few weeks battling appendicitis.
“Justin played with intensity tonight,” Wild said. “We play mostly three sophomores and two juniors, so we’re pretty young. We made a lot of mistakes and got into foul trouble, but it was because of our aggressiveness, so I can live with that.”
Andrew Grove led the Bulldogs with 13 points, Jake Rosowicz added 11, and Justin Journey and Jake Pishotti each had 10. Add in nine from Ryan Pishotti, and it’s easy to see how hard it was for the Mustangs to contain Lakeview while hoping for their own shots to start falling.
Sadly enough, they never did, and Lakeview slowly pulled away in the third period to decide the game.
“When we play defense with aggressiveness,” Wild said, “we get some stupid fouls, with our kids being young. That is easy to live with as they develop.”
That same formula worked well for a while for the Mustangs, but not over the whole game.
“Frustration did set in a little bit in the third period for us,” Strohm said. “We lost some of our emotion, but I tell the kids that when we put a full game together, we can play with anybody. Now, we just need to learn from our mistakes.”
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.