Ea­gles out­last Lions, stay in first

Antelope Valley Press - - SPORTS - By JOHN SAN­DERS Val­ley Press Sports Cor­re­spon­dent

LAN­CASTER — With 4:54 re­main­ing in the first quar­ter the lights in­side the East­side Gym­na­sium went out, lit­er­ally.

At the end of the game the Lan­caster boys bas­ket­ball team tried to give the game away against East­side.

But in the end the Ea­gles turned out the lights on the Lions with a thrilling 66-63 vic­tory, Tues­day night at East­side High School.

With the vic­tory, Lan­caster (10-4, 6-1) re­mained atop the Golden League stand­ings with a ½-game lead over Quartz Hill (5-1) and 1½ games over East­side. The Ea­gles will host Quartz Hill on Fri­day night and the Rebels still have a crit­i­cal makeup game against the Lions. High­land and Knight are still in the hunt at 4-3.

Things got re­ally in­ter­est­ing in the fourth quar­ter.

Lan­caster’s Dy­lan Bryant hit a driv­ing layup against East­side’s Nathan An­der­son and was fouled. He failed to con­vert the 3-point play, but the Ea­gles still held a 56-47 lead with less than four min­utes re­main­ing. On Lan­caster’s en­su­ing posses­sion, two free throws by Jor­dan Roach gave Lan­caster a seem­ingly com­fort­able 58-47 lead with 2:59 left. Seem­ingly com­fort­able. An An­der­son put­back sliced the lead to 59-52 with 97 sec­onds re­main­ing.

Seem­ingly com­fort­able. As Ea­gles head coach Sid­ney Melvin wanted his team to run time off the clock, Roach drove to the rim early in the shot clock and missed. Roach and the ball fell out of bounds and it was awarded to the Lions (6-8).

“You have to be dis­ci­plined. We wanted to milk the clock and we have to ex­e­cute. There at the end we got lack­adaisi­cal and we weren’t fo­cused,” Melvin said. “We have to know the game’s not over un­til it’s over. It’s a grind the whole game. Give them credit they fought back.”

A layup by James Scott trimmed the lead to 61-54. Sec­onds later Aubhrey Pen­der net­ted a 3-pointer, which was fol­lowed by a steal and layup by An­der­son and Lan­caster’s lead was dec­i­mated to 62-59 with 25.4 sec­onds left.

“We need to work on be­ing more poised and calm, but we didn’t give up. We were hun­grier than they were,” said Roach, who scored ex­actly half of Lan­caster’s 66 points, fin­ish­ing with 33, in­clud­ing 13-of-18 from the free-throw line. “We kept fight­ing. When we were los­ing early in the game we asked our­selves how we’re los­ing to this team. This team is se­nior stacked so we’re try­ing to make a point in league.”

Af­ter Roach was fouled as his team was cling­ing to a 3-point lead, he made 1-of-2 free throws to in­flate the lead to 63-59. The par­ti­san East­side crowd re­ally rose to its feet af­ter Do­minic Clay­ton drained a 3-pointer and was fouled by Bryant, who was try­ing to con­test the shot. Clay­ton con­verted the un­com­mon 4-point play and the Lions crawled all the way back to tie the score, 63-63.

“We played hard as a team, but at the end of the day the game turned into a men­tal game. There was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion with us the first six min­utes of the fourth quar­ter and that’s how they built their lead,” East­side head coach Cisco Muñoz said. “We went away from our de­fense. We have to learn to fol­low the game plan from be­gin­ning to end. We have to put this one be­hind us be­cause there are more games to play. We’ll learn from this and this will be a wakeup call for us.”

With the mo­men­tum and crowd on their side and the score tied, Roach was fouled by Pen­der fol­low­ing the in­bounds pass. He made both free throws to give Lan­caster a 65-63 lead with 14.6 sec­onds. The Lions’ Scott Blanken­ship missed a 3-pointer in the cor­ner and Lan­caster’s Eric Ro­driguez was fouled with six sec­onds left.

Ro­driguez made 1-of-2 to give the Ea­gles a 3-point lead, but the Lions still had one more chance. East­side got the ball to Clay­ton who got a good look at the bas­ket for three, but the ball hit the front of the rim to seal the vic­tory for the Ea­gles.

“We started strong and we came out with a lot of en­ergy. But we didn’t keep the same in­ten­sity,” said An­der­son, who led his team with 16 points. “Af­ter we got down in the fourth we got our en­ergy back. We could have won this game. This could have all been avoided if our en­ergy re­mained.”

The Lions led 29-27 at half­time. The Ea­gles, how­ever, outscored East­side 22-14 and grabbed a 49-43 lead head­ing into the fourth.

JOHN SAN­DERS/Val­ley Press Sports Cor­re­spon­dent

BAT­TLE TESTED — The Lan­caster and East­side boys bas­ket­ball teams pre­pare for the ball to be in-bounded by the Ea­gles dur­ing a Golden League game at East­side High on Tues­day. Lan­caster won 66-63 to re­main in first place in the league stand­ings.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.