By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
HUNTING VALLEY —
Lakeside boys coach Jim Hood said Friday was one of those nights. And University School coach Terry Lipford said that he was “relieved” after his Preppers came away with a 76-65 victory in a battle between schools that were among the early leaders in the Premier Athletic Conference.
“I’m glad to get the win on a night when we were very, very sluggish,” Lipford, whose boys have yet to lose a league game, said. “We kind of muddled our way through it, but we did enough to win, so we’re pleased with that.”
US (5-1, 4-0), which had the size advantage, pounded the Dragons on the boards, 41-21. The host Preppers never trailed, although Lakeside was very much in the contest until late. Nevertheless, the Dragons could not get within three points after Cole Farr’s hook shot cut it to 24-19 early in the second quarter.
“We had it figured they would (beat us on the glass),” Hood said. “They’re much bigger than we are. We didn’t box out well. I told the kids before (that) I know (the Preppers) want to hit the boards and get a runout. That’s what they did.
“It’s like every time we put a little pressure on them, they got a couple runouts, and we just didn’t get back.”
“Coming into the basketball game, we knew we had a little bit of a size advantage,” Lipford said. “That was one of the things we told the guys before we came out was that we really wanted to be physical and try to win the boards. “We didn’t want to give them second looks. We wanted to kind of take the basketball, hold them to one shot, and then get the rebound and go. When we rebound well too, it allows us to get into transition a little bit.”
Both teams shot better than 48 percent, although both missed some good chances, and each turned the ball over 25 times. US’s Kyle Scadlock led everyone in both points (23) and rebounds (9), although he was one who missed some prime opportunities. His teammate, point guard DeAndre Austin, added 22 points and four assists while, as point guard, he was the primary ballhandler.
Scadlock converted three-point plays that closed the scoring of each of the first two periods. The first one gave the Preppers the advantage for good at 16-13, after the Dragons gave the ball away 12 times in the frame. The second one, which he converted after a great fake, pushed it to 41-32 at the half, and gave his team 25 points in the frame.
US, which led by 11 three times in the second quarter, regained that margin twice in the third before a 6-0 Dragon spurt cut it to 48-43 on a driving layup by Lorenz Sistrunk (15 points). However, the Preppers answered with seven to push to 55-43. In the fourth quarter, Lakeside got as close as seven on a layup by Farr (10 points) following a teammate’s steal. However, Regan Mohler (12 points) tallied the first five points of another 7-0 Prepper stretch to make it 69-55 with less than three minutes left.
“We never could get over the hump,” Hood said. “They’re a good team. We’re not going to see too many teams like that until we get to tournament time. They’ve got size, they’ve got ballhandlers, they’ve got shooters. We matched up as best we could. We can’t take anything (away) from them; they played well tonight.”
Jaedon Jones scored eight of his 14 points in the fourth period for Lakeside, and stole the ball five times. Tristan Bradley added nine points and four assists.
Chris Cercelle scored nine points and James Johnston grabbed seven rebounds for US.
US went to the foul line nine more times than Lakeside (21-12), hitting eight more shots from that venue (16-8). Those advantages were both achieved before the break.
“I just think they did a lot of dribble-penetration,” Hood said. “We made some dumb fouls. We’ve got to play smart defensively.
“We knew they wanted to drive; they hadn’t shot anything outside the whole first quarter. So we knew that all they wanted to do was drive and dish, or drive and draw fouls. We just didn’t stop the dribbling.”
Austin was the main culprit as far as that was concerned. In fact, though he did hit two 3-pointers, a good number of his points came on drives.
“I thought (Lakeside) really did a good job of playing hard the entire night, really attacking and trying to get to the basket,” Lipford said. “We had the fouls in our favor in the first half. In the second half, they really did a good job of attacking. A lot of credit to them for really coming and trying to scratch and claw out a win.”
“They had a lot of second shots, and we couldn’t really get that many second shots,” Hood said.
“A lot of our guys — our energy level could have been a little bit better,” Lipford said. “We had finals this week. They’ve been studying hard, so I think that kind of took a little bit out of ’em.”
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.