By STEVE GOLDMAN
For the Star Beacon
The Lakeside boys came into Tuesday night with the task of facing a very good opponent while missing three players, on top of being faced with their fourth game in five nights. Then their best player went down with an injury, and on top of that, they had some foul trouble.
Despite all of that, the Dragons hung tough for quite a while. But in the end, it was too much to overcome, as host Brush pulled away for a 94-65 non-conference win.
In what was a seesaw battle, Brush was ahead 19-18 when, in the final minute of the first quarter, Emonte Parks turned in a spectacular blocked shot. Unfortunately, he hit his head on the backboard on the play, and had to sit out the rest of the game.
“We couldn’t buy a break tonight,” Lakeside coach Mark Taylor said. “We were playing well, we had the lead, and (Parks) was really playing well. He was playing at another gear – really flying down the court — and then when he hit his head off the backboard, it took the wind out of our sails.”
“I think we caught them in a good spot for us, in playing their fourth game in five nights,” Brush coach Jayson Macauda said. “And then they had a couple guys out already, and then Parks goes down early. That was a huge factor, because that kid can play.
The Arcs (13-7) never trailed after that. An 8-0 skein provided a 27-19 lead which they pushed to 45-32 before Lakeside (6-14, 4-7 in the Premier Athletic Conference) cut it to 45-36 at halftime. Brush expanded the margin to 18 points before an 8-2 Dragon spurt got it down to 62-50 as the third quarter neared its close.
But from that point, the Arcs showed the killer instinct with a 32-12 skein capped by a 17-2 stretch including the final 10 points. That made it 94-62 within the final minute of play.
Kyle Downs (9 points) fouled out for Lakeside 16 seconds into the fourth period. Nick Meola (8 points) also exited with fouls in the final minute.
“Instead of us building that (9)-point lead at the half, if (Parks) is still in there, it might be one possession,” Macauda said. “And then they had (Downs) foul out early in the fourth, so we were able to get some distance there at the end.”
Both teams like to run, and given how quickly the fans had to turn their heads at times to keep track of the action, it would not be surprising if the emergency care centers in Lyndhurst and South Euclid have an unusually high amount of whiplash patients today. Delvon Robinson (4 assists) led Brush with 22 points off the bench, including three 3-pointers, and Brandon Dawson added 21 points. Tristan Bradley led Lakeside with 20 points.
Sayvaughn Morgan (flu), Marcell Ballenger (flu) and Lorenz Sistrunk were all unavailable for the Dragons.
“It’s unfortunate, playing a powerhouse like Brush short-handed,” Taylor said. “I thought we were playing really well with a younger lineup led by Emonte. And then when he went down, I thought the young guys fought hard. I thought they did the best they could. I thought they gave 110 percent. I was proud of their effort.”
Brush shot 52.9 percent (36 of 68) from the floor including 20 of 33 in the second half. Lakeside managed just 22-of-62 (35.2 [percent) and was outrebounded 48-33.
“Our guys were playing with a lot of emotion, being Senior Night and us having six of them,” Macauda said.
“(Great athleticism),” Taylor said of his opponent. “Great speed. Since we were down four guys, it kind of takes away from our depth. And I believe you win with depth and intensity, and we didn’t have our depth.”
That wasn’t a problem for Brush, as Macauda was able to rotate fresh bodies in despite some foul struggles by his own team.
Chris Oakley had 14 points, five assists and four thefts off the bench, Ronnie Ransom 15 points and eight rebounds, and Alfonso Onunwar 10 points for the Arcs.
“Our depth has been a real plus for us all year,” Macauda said.
“They’re an exceptional team,” Taylor said. “There’s a reason they’re the second seed in (the Division I Euclid) district.”
Jaden Jones had 13 points, Odero Ajamu eight points and three blocked shots and Jerel Lower four steals for the Dragons.
Goldman is a freelance writer from South Euclid.