The Lakers men's basketball team traveled to OU-Lancaster on Friday to take on the Bryant & Stratton Bobcats in the District Semi-Finals. In a back and forth affair, the Lakers came away with the 72-67 victory. With the win, the Lakers record improves to 21-7 while the Bobcats season ends with a record of 14-12. The two teams had split their games during the regular season. This was a unique game in that the Lakers lost the battle of turnovers (10-24) and steals (6-12), but led the game throughout. As a team they shot over 52% from the field and made key free throws late in the second half. The game began with Lakeland taking control of the game offensively as Jordan Burge led the team with 9 points. Point guard Julian Jackson also played brilliantly as he picked up 6 of his game high 8 assists in the opening stanza. The Lakers appeared in control much of the half with the lead consistently being in the 8-12 point range. The first half ended with the Lakers leading 40-29.
The second half was more of the same as the Lakers held a comfortable lead most of the half even though they were not dominating the game statistically. Everytime the Bobcats began to make a run, the Lakers would answer. With a little over 8 minutes to play, The Lakers had gone cold and the Bobcats had finally cut the lead to 6 points. Jonny Bowers then had a key steal which led to an Allen Sims lay-up from Tyreke Johnson. The Bobcats were later able to cut the lead to 5 (62-57) after some more cold shooting from the Lakers. With 3:30 to play, Jonny Bowers calmly stepped to the line to make 2 free throws to grow the lead again to 64-57. Lakeland maintained a 6 point lead until the Bobcats hit a big three with 13 seconds left in the game to trim the deficit to 3 at 70-67. Lakeland's Bowers was again fouled and he once again drained both free throws to finally ice the game.
Lakeland had nine different players score in a very balanced attack. Jordan Burge led all Lakeland scorers with 14 points - including 6 points from the free throw line. Bowers finished with 12 points and was a perfect 6-6 from the line. Tyreke Johnson had 9 points and 13 rebounds.
Bowe Bytes: "At this time of year, it's all about moving on. Whether you win by 1, 5, or 10 points doesn't matter - you just need to get it done and move on. Fortunately, we were able to capitalize on some Bobcat mistakes, shoot the ball fairly well, and move on to the finals tomorrow. We will need a strong effort tomorrow to take care of business."
Next up: Lakeland moves to the District finals for the second year in a row to take on the Cuyahoga Community College Triceratops. The two teams split during the regular season with each team winning on its home court. The game tomorrow is scheduled for 3pm at OU-Lancaster.