The Lakeland men's basketball team played host to the Owens Express on Wednesday evening and came away with a 93-74 victory. With the win, the Lakers improve to 14-6 and 7-1 in conference play. The Express fall to 11-12 and 3-3. This game started off with a nice tribute to the tragic passing of the nine individuals in Sunday's helicopter crash. In memory of them, and in particular, to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant and the impact he has had on the game of basketball and the community as a whole, each team took a 30 second violation to begin the game. It was during this time that spectators and players were asked to reflect on the individuals that passed and on their own personal lives thinking of ways in which we can make our communities a better place.
From there, the teams played a fairly even first 15 minutes of the half as the score was tied at 27 with 4:15 to play. Tyreke Johnson, on what would be a theme for the night, then hit a three which was shortly followed by a Keith Germain steal and dunk pushing the lead to 5 with 2:55 to play in the half. A Jordan Burge steal then led to a Germain lay-up. Chris Richardson then hit a pair of free throws and the half was capped by another Johnson 3-ball sending the Lakers into the half with a 39-30 lead.
The Lakers picked it right back up early in the second half as they built a comfortable 50-36 lead just 3:30 minutes in. For the next 15 minutes, every time the Express would try to go on a run and cut the lead to 9, the Lakers would answer. Baskets by Johnson, Richardson, Jonny Bowers, and a big 3 by Julian Jackson kept the Express at bay throughout the half. In the last Laker possessions, the goal was to spread the floor, use the clock, and get up a quality shot late. They were able to do that throughout and so cruised to the victory.
Tyreke Johnson led all scorers with 31 points shooting 7-12 from the arc and converting 6-6 from the free throw line. Keith Germain and Jonny Bowers each finished with 14 points while Jordan Burge finished with 8 points. Allen Sims chipped in 7 points while Chris Richardson and Jordan McMillian each had 6 points.
Keith Germain - "We came out and competed tonight. They were a tough team. We played good defense. Tyreke really got hot and so we looked for him and then that opened things up for others (and me). We have to keep working hard for Edison." Pre-game rituals you can share: "I like to watch the 1st quarter of the girls game and cheer them on. I then go in and listen to music to get in the zone. During the warm-up (in the lay-up lines), I always do the same thing."
Jonny Bowers - "Tyreke was super hot and he's been playing super great the last few games. We were just feeding off of his energy. He almost had the record for 3's in a game." Pre-game rituals you can share: "For home games, I take a nap for an hour. I then come in and shoot in the aux. gym by myself. I then go into the pre-game with the team."
Tyreke Johnson - "We picked it up in the second half. We were sluggish in th first half. I had a hot hand tonight. My teammates and coaches believe in me and so I just have to knock them down." Pre-game rituals you can share: "For home games, I get here at 5:00 and shoot for 20 minutes. I then shower, lotion, and then go see the trainer, Julie. I then heat, tape, biofreeze, and stretch. I'm then ready to go."
Bowe Bytes: "Offensively, I thought we played well. Defensively, we followed the game plan; but forgot about post play. We have to remember to do the little things. We are looking forward to hosting Edison on Saturday - it should be a good game."
Next up: The Lakers play host to Edison State this Saturday at 3:00 pm. First place in the conference at the mid-point of the season is on the line. Admission is free. The Lakers will then travel to Terra State on Wednesday for a 7:30 pm tip before visiting Clark State next Saturday for a 3:00 pm matchup against the Eagles.