Lakeridge boys rally past Century 63-59 on Tuesday
The Century boys basketball team had Lakeridge right where it wanted it after one quarter.
The Jaguars were still in control at halftime.
And they led by seven points a couple minutes into the third quarter.
But the Pacers just kept coming.
Lakeridge tied the score eight times after that, took the lead for good with 2 minutes, 17 seconds left to play and edged away to win 63-59 at Lakeridge High School on Tuesday, Dec. 17.
"I think our defense wasn't there as much in the first half as it was in the second half," said Lakeridge senior guard Carson Mike, who finished with 10 points on 4 of 9 shooting from the field (with two 3-pointers), along with three assists and three steals. "Ultimately, I think it was just better defense. We changed it up and we got the 'W.'"
"We played together. We played as a team. The energy was there on the court and on the bench and we just played together," said Lakeridge senior guard Mason Nelson, who led his team with 14 points on 6 of 14 shooting from the field (with two "threes"), five rebounds, one assist and one steal. "We got the win."
With the win, the Pacers' third straight, Lakeridge improved to 3-2 in non-league play. Century, meanwhile, lost for the second time in three games and fell to 3-2 overall.
"I feel like we played hard enough, but defensively, we needed to fix a couple of things," said Century senior guard Jospin Mugisha, who led his team with 15 points on 3 of 9 shooting from the field (with one 3-pointer) and an 8 of 10 day at the free throw line, along with 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. "I feel like we are a way better defensive team than that."
"They made plays at the end and we didn't. We had too many turnovers," added Century junior guard Edidem Essien, who finished with 14 points on 5 of 9 shooting (including two "threes"), along with three rebounds and one steal. "The second half, it was just turnovers and we lost the momentum."
The Jaguars started quickly on Tuesday, getting five points each from Essien and junior forward Ethan Parish in the first quarter and taking a 13-5 lead when Parish banked home a 3-pointer on the fast break midway through the period.
Lakeridge hung close thanks to junior forward Clark Sheehan's seven points, closing within 13-12 when senior center Eric Struik's scored from the left side, but the Pacers settled for a 15-12 deficit at the end of one.
Century got a quick "three" from sophomore guard Kyle Hamnes and a Mugisha pull-up to open the second quarter with a 20-12 lead, but again, Lakeridge did not go away. Instead, the Pacers ripped off eight straight points to tie the game at 20-20 when Nelson took a pass from sophomore guard Rylan Lafaye and drilled a "three" from the top of the key midway through the period.
But the Jags closed the half on an 8-2 run over the final 3:17, with senior forward Chance Sparks scoring four points and Mugisha burying a "three" off a Sparks pass to make it 31-24 at the half.
Century was still up 35-28 when senior guard Ikin Chan took a Sparks pass and drilled a jumpshot with 5:29 to go in the third quarter, but it wouldn't last.
Nelson got hot with six points in the period, Mike hit a 3-pointer, senior forward Nick Holum added four points and the Pacers tied the score five times in the final 4:07, the last time at 45-45 when junior guard Max Wise went coast-to-coast and scored in the final seconds of the frame.
The game was still tied at 56-56 when Hamnes made two foul shots with 2:33 left in the contest, but Lakeridge took over from there. Mike hit a tough leaner from the left side of the lane to give his team the lead for good at 58-56 with 2:17 to go, and from there, Holum scored inside off a Nelson pass and senior guard Aaron Buck hit 3 of 4 free throws to seal his team's win at the end of the game.
While the Pacers feature just one returning varsity player from 2018-19, they didn't look like it down the stretch.
"Seventy-five percent these kids, we've been playing together since third grade," Mike said. "We haven't been on the same varsity team, but we played through third, fourth, fifth, sixth, everything. We mesh."
"It took us a while to get going in summer ball, but we knew we had a brand-new team," Nelson said. "I'm the only returner, but we're going to play our hearts out. We don't care what anyone says."
On their end of the court, the Jaguars felt like they'd let a win slip from their grasp and vowed to learn from their loss.
"(It's a) blank slate from here. We'll move on and get better defensively," Mugisha said. "Games like this, we should win, but they're going to help us because we're just going to play harder."
For Lakeridge, Sheehan finished with 12 points, while Buck and Holum added nine each, with Holum also grabbing six rebounds.
For Century, Hamnes finished with nine points and Sparks eight, with Sparks also grabbing 12 rebounds and handing out three assists.
The Pacers forced 17 Century turnovers and made just seven themselves.
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