By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Having come from behind to win an earlier game, the Lakeside boys knew they could do it again. And in less than one quarter, they made a halftime deficit of 10 points disappear.
The Dragons used a big third period to take the lead over visiting University School, and were able to fight off a tie in the final minutes to post a 63-60 win on Wednesday.
“I told them it’s still a new ballgame,” Lakeside coach Jim Hood said while stressing the importance of runs. “I made it clear to them that we were down 20 (in the first half) at Harvey and came back and won. We just (needed) to get one stop at a time, one bucket at a time.”
The Preppers (11-6 overall) have been leading the Premier Athletic Conference all season. But with two losses now, and two games remaining against North, the race appears to have become much more interesting.
The Dragons saw to that with the help of a 24-10 third quarter, including the final 8 points, that turned a 35-25 halftime deficit into a 49-45 advantage.
The Dragons made 9 of their 12 shots during that period.
“The third quarter — defensively — we really weren’t communicating real well,” US coach Terry Lipford said. “They were getting us with that backscreen, catching the ball on the baseline and converting. So they did a good job of running their offense.”
“They’re very aggressive in the passing lanes, and when you’re aggressive in the passing lanes, it opens up the backdoor and cuts,” Hood said.
Lakeside pushed it to 54-47, although US caught it at 57 with 2:11 left, on the second of two baskets by post James Johnston (14 points).
However, senior Kyle Downs gave the Dragons (7-10, 5-5) the lead back with a floater. Two baskets by freshman Matt Lunghofer stretched it to 63-57 with 40 seconds left, but Chris Cercelle (9 points) cut it to 63-60 with a 3-pointer.
The Preppers had two more possessions, but turned it over once and missed two 3-point attempts on the second. Lorenz Sistrunk (21 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists) blocked the first one out of bounds, and the second attempt went off the rim in the waning seconds.
“This team revolves around Lorenz, Downs and Marcell Ballenger,” Hood said. Their energy — that radiates. When they get going, everybody else gets going. Everybody feeds off of them, and that’s been a key for us.”
US, which hit 9-of-10 second-quarter shots to turn around a 17-15 deficit, shot 53.3 percent (24 of 45) from the floor, but turned the ball over 23 times.
“It’s kind of an Achilles’ heel for us all season — turning the ball over,” Lipford said. “Now it’s gotten worse, since one of our primary ballhandlers (DeAndre Austin) went down (with a high ankle sprain). But that’s not an excuse. We still have guys that should be able to handle the ball.”
“I think we surprised them,” Hood said. “Last time (in a 76-65 loss on Dec. 20), we didn’t press them. And with their point guard gone — I’m sorry they’re missing their point guard, but I felt like we could pressure them a little bit and get some turnovers.”
The Dragons have also missed their starting point guard, Tristan Bradley, who is out for the year with a scratched cornea. Freshman point guard Jose Ramos didn’t start, but stepped up with 13 points, 3 assists and 3 steals.
Lakeside hit 25 of 53 shots 47.2 percent) and turned it over 18 times.
Ballenger had 5 assists for the Dragons, who were without Cole Farr (illness)
Kyle Scadlock had 16 points and Regan Mohler 9 points for the Preppers.
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.