ANDOVER TOWNSHIP - Most coaches will attest to the importance of a fast start in games and a fast start after the halftime intermission.
Saturday night at Pymatuning Valley, the host Lakers got off to the fast start and the visiting Lakeview Bulldogs did the damage in the third period.
However, the fast start and dominance by the Lakers, other than that third period, led to a 61-41 nonconference victory.
"They got some good looks at the basket early in the game," PV coach Ryan Fitch said. "I'm glad they weren't going in early. They have some really good shooters, so I'm glad we got off to a fast start."
The Lakers had an 11-0 lead before Drew Bell hit a pair of free throws for the Bulldogs (1-5) with 3:22 left in the first period.
Quintin Ratliff provided the big spark in that opening run for PV with seven points. All five Laker buckets in the first period, when they opened a 16-4 lead, were started with assists, and that ratio, other than the third period, continued as the Lakers had 18 assists on their 21 hoops for the game.
Add in many missed shots for the Bulldogs, leading to a 15 of 48 effort for 31.2 percent, and it explains much of the difference in the game.
"It's been the same thing for us in every game so far," Lakeview coach Craig Mild said. "We don't come out with good intensity, start slow, and then finish strong. You just can't keep getting down by 20 points and expect to come back to win."
The Pymatuning Valley (6-0, 3-0 in Northeastern Athletic Conference) lead reached as much as 24 points, at 36-12 in the first half, before the Bulldogs cut it to eight, at 47-39, midway through the fourth period before a three point play from Tim Cross boosted it back to 50-39 with 4:10 to play. From that point on, the Bulldogs could muster only a basket by Erich Schmitt the rest of the way.
Ratliff had the hot hand for PV in the first half, scoring 16 of his 26 points for the night. The Lakers also got a big spark off the bench from Chase Thurber, who entered when Evan Pilson got into early foul trouble.
Thurber nailed one 3-pointer in the first period and two in a row in the second quarter in totalling nine points for the game.
Tim Cross, held in check fairly well in the first half, erupted for seven points in the fourth period to finish with 11, and Austin Nowakowski also tallied 11 points.
The Lakers grabbed a narrow edge on the boards, 30-26, as Cross and Ratliff each snared eight.
Andrew Grove came off the Bulldog bench to share rebounding honors for his team with Schmitt.
Lakeview's rough offensive show, especially in the first half, led to just Rayn Pishotti reaching double digits with 13 points. Brandon Bensing added nine.
"I'm really expecting our intensity to pick up," Mild said of his team. "We've started out like this in every game, and the kids have to pick it up."
For the Lakers, facing a decided size disadvantage, a simple defensive plan proved to be a key.
"It was important for us to contain their dribble drive tonight," Fitch said. "We wanted to make their post entries tough. We did a good job there, and Quintin (Ratliff) showed that he's just a phenomanal athlete. We like to get him on the high post against pressure from other teams because he's a good passer, and then he takes the ball to the basket well."