STINGY GARFIELD HEIGHTS DEFENSE OUSTS LAKE IN REGIONAL SEMIFINAL
The Lake High School boys basketball team dropped a 29-22 decision to Garfield Height's in Wednesday night's Division I regional semifinal at Cleveland State University. Don't adjust your eyes-- 29-22 really WAS the final score.
In a game where missed opportunities were the order of the day, Lake trailed 11-7 after the opening quarter, 19-15 at halftime and 24-20 after three quarters. Garfield Heights outscored Lake 5-2 in the final period, although the contest wasn't decided until the Bulldogs sank two free throws inside the game's final minute. The Lake defense did not allow a made basket in the final 7:27, but the Blue Streaks couldn't capitalize on the offensive end. Coach Tom McBride's squad hit just eight of 29 shots from the field (27%), and that total includes an uncharacteristic four of 17 from three point range.
“The whole feel of the second half was 'One of these three's is going to go down,” McBride said. “We just had some situations where the guy we were going to go to fell down and we went to somebody else. The feel from the bench was 'We've been here before, we've done this, we're going to hit that big shot,' and it just didn't happen for us.
“We executed our game plan defensively. Their length obviously affected us. We're a team that's set up to score quite a bit at the rim. When they can put guys around the rim that are bigger than us, that definitely hurts. We started looking for some sets that needed the three ball to go down, and they were just a little quicker getting to that. At times we took quick shots. I thought if we just would have broken them down another pass or two, our looks would have been a little bit cleaner.”
Many of those in attendance, including McBride, were surprised when Bulldogs coach Sonny Johnson elected to play a zone defense with a short lead following the halftime break. Garfield Heights held a 26-18 rebounding edge for the game, however, and Johnson wasn't about to take test fate with Lake.
“We watched eight tapes of (Lake), and I thought they struggled (with the zone) a little bit,”Johnson said. “They're such a disciplined team. I thought they would be very patient. We knew that they wouldn't take a shot unless it was a great shot and we wanted to run some clock. We went over their plays watching film, then we came back out (on the floor) and went over their plays. There's nobody like them. They're beyond disciplined. They're going to dribble at you and back door cut you, they're going to back screen for a shot. My head is still spinning, and I'm just happy we've moved on from playing those guys. That's a tough team.”
Wednesday night marked the third regional appearance for Lake, which finished 19-7 on the year and has advanced to the district final in five consecutive seasons.
“This was a fantastic season,” Senior Joe McBride said. “I know it didn't end up how we wanted it to. We lost our first game of the year. People were already talking 'This team's only going to be .500, they're not that good, they don't have Chandler Vaudrin.' 19-7 is pretty good.”