By RICH KELLY
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
While it wasn’t exactly what first-year Lakeside Dragon coach Jim Hood wanted, his team battled the Kenston Bombers throughout Friday night at Lakeside Gymnasium.
Unfortunately, the latter half of the second period was tough on Lakeside, and that four-plus minute span cost them in a 56-40 loss.
The only lead of the night for the Dragons came midway through the first quarter when Lorenz Sistrunk stole the ball in the Bomber front court and went the entire way to the hoop to score, giving his team a brief 9-8 lead.
Kenston responded with a 7-0 spurt to close the quarter, and after the Bombers extended the lead to 23-13 with 2:10 left before halftime on the third of three Mitch Huge hoops off the bench, the wheels fell off the Dragon wagon with seven-straight turnovers.
“There was an awful lot of youth out on the floor tonight,” Kenston Josh Jakacki said. “That’s just a big tribute to the sloppy play tonight from both teams. We didn’t play really smart ball tonight at times. In our preseason scrimmages, we played better, but we got out of our rhythms tonight because Lakeside really pushed our efforts, and they weren’t sharp, either.
“I congratulated our kids in the locker room, but I also told them that Lakeside forced them to do a lot of things we normally don’t do.”
The Dragons hustled the whole way, but that stretch in the second quarter, leading to 20 of their 35 turnovers for the game, dug too deep of a hole. Lakeside forced 18 of the 28 Bomber turnovers in the second half, but the visitors did one thing the Dragons couldn’t — get the ball into the basket.
Kenston’s fast break efforts netted them 22-42 shooting for 52.3 percent as eight of nine Bombers scored, paced by a trio in double digits.
Bernie Porter tallied 14, including 6-6 from the line, Jimmy Artale added 11 points and Joe Simmons scored 10. Huge was a force at both ends of the floor, but his three-straight hoops in that second quarter run led to 9 more points for him.
Jaedon Jones led the Dragons with 11 points, and Kyle Downs was a force in scoring 10 with 10 rebounds. Sistrunk also added 9 points before fouling out early in the fourth period.
While the Dragon roster includes eight seniors for Hood, only four have varsity experience.
“I talked with the kids at halftime about the turnovers,” Hood said. “It’s going to happen with this much inexperience as we have. We hung in there the best we could, though. Overall, I think we played a solid game. Our defense was tough all night, and our future looks good. We got into rushing things too much, especially in that second period. We got away from what we want to do, and when we started to actually run our offense, I think we did well.”
Two players went down with minor injuries in the game for Lakeside, but Hood said it was nothing serious. A big factor, though, was the absence of Nick Meola, out until possibly some time in January from an injury suffered during football.
Kelly is a freelance writer from Jefferson.