The Lakers men's basketball team played host to the Bryant & Stratton Bobcats on Wednesday afternoon in Laker gym. The Bobcats had tripped the Lakers up earlier in the season on a game right after the holiday break. This time, Lakeland played more to their potential and avenged the loss with an 81-68 victory. With the win, Lakeland improves to 18-6 overall while Bryant & Stratton falls to 11-9. The game went back and forth in the first half with Lakeland leading by as many as 11 at one point; however, the score typically was within the 2-6 point range. The lead changed 5 times in the half and there were 3 ties. Despite that, Lakeland always appeared to be in control. Everytime the Bobcats made a run, Lakeland would answer. At the half, the Lakers went in with a 37-33 lead.
The second half was much of the same early on until a pair of Keith Germain free throws gave the Lakers a 54-49 edge - and then came the pressure defense. The quicker tempo led to some missed scoring chances from the Bobcats and Chris Richardson made them pay with a lay-up before a 3-pointer from Tyreke Johnson pushed the Laker lead to 10 with 10:15 to play. From there the teams would trade baskets and the lead stayed between 6-14 points the rest of the way. Every time the Bobcats started to go on a run, the Lakers would again have an answer. Scoring to maintain the lead came from several sources including Jonny Bowers, Allen Sims, Richardson, and Johnson.
Jonny Bowers led the way for the Lakers with a double double; scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. Tyreke Johnson scored 18 points while Jordan McMillian added 16. Chris Richardson had a strong game adding 12 points and 6 rebounds. Jordan Burge chipped in with 9 points and 4 rebounds.
Tyreke Johnson - "I think we played fairly well overall. We were a little sluggish in the first half but were able to pick it up in the second half." On his scoring pace for this game and the season, "I'm fortunate in that my teammates and coaches believe in me. It's so much easier with that support to take and hit shots." Johnson finished 5-9 beyond the arc.
Bowe Bytes: "We did a good job of taking their point guard (Reed) away; that was part of the game plan. However, we didn't do a very good job with the game plan and our defensive rotations. We gave up way too many easy lay-ups because of poor execution in that area. We will need to get better in order to meet our goals and finish the season strong. We do not play this weekend and so we will have some time to regroup a bit before taking on tough conference opponents next week (Cuyahoga and Sinclair)."
Next up: The Lakers are off this weekend before traveling to Cuyahoga CC to play the Challengers on Wednesday (2/19) for a 6:30 tip. Lakeland will then return home on Saturday (2/22) for their final regular season home game of the year. Game time is 3pm and admission is free.