DEGRAFF – What promised to be one of the this season’s most anticipated basketball games – a matchup between two talented and athletic squads from Indian Lake and Riverside – turned into a one-act play starring the Lakers as they blitzed their way past the host Pirates, 63-34, in a non-league boys basketball action on Dec. 15.
Riverside (3-1 on the year) came into the game undefeated and fresh off a weekend sweep over Temple Christian and Ansonia, while the Lakers were riding a two-game losing streak coming into DeGraff. But it was all Indian Lake from buzzer-to-buzzer as the Lakers (2-3 overall) sprinted their way to a 17-7 lead after the first quarter, then scored the first six points of the second, eventually pasting the shell-shocked Pirates by 29 points.
It was all Lakers all the time following the opening tip. While Indian Lake didn’t make every shot, grab every rebound, and recover every loose ball, it just seemed that way. Riverside, on the other hand, couldn’t get out of its own way, turning the ball over time and again, often without the help of the frantic Laker defense – suffering errant passes, dribbles off the foot, and poor shot selection. The Pirates, who committed a total of just 17 turnovers in their last two games, eventually coughed up the ball 26 times against Indian Lake. These gifts the Lakers put to good use, pressuring the Pirate defense after every mishap and sticking it in the hoop at an assembly-line rate.
Neither could the Pirates find the bottom of the net, much of that due to the hyper man-to-man defense that the Lakers threw at them, forcing the hosts into bad passes and ill-advised shots, then wiping the boards and putting up points at the other end of the court.
The Pirates shot nearly 60 percent from the floor in their past two games, but didn’t get anywhere near that average against the Lakers, connecting on only 33 percent (11-for-33) from the floor and a disheartening 1-for-11 from outside the arc. The hosts were also limited to a total of just 18 rebounds in the game.
Thirteen of the fourteen players on the Laker roster made it into the game and of that baker’s dozen, ten managed to make at least one basket. Alex Jacobs led the ten Lakers to put numbers on the board with 15 points, while Beau Hefner scored 12. The Lakers connected on six shots from downtown – Kale Shoffner hit two in the first quarter all six of his points – and sank 11-of-14 free throw attempts.
Jesse Kean has 12 points in the loss and Shane Crawford scored seven.
The Pirates stay at home for their next two games, facing Lima Perry in a Northwest Central Conference game Friday, Dec. 18, then hosting Emmanuel Christian the following night.
Indian Lake returns home to play Greenon in a CBC Mad River Division game Friday, Dec. 18.
Tom Stephens is a regular contributor to this newspaper.