Lakeview stops rival Champion in opener, 70-56

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Lakeview’s Joel Lindow (5) defends against Jared Day of Champion Friday in the Bulldogs’ 70-56 win.

CORTLAND — The Lakeview Bulldogs came out shooting hot and used that for a 70-56 win over the Champion Flashes.

Lakeview (1-0) got out to a slow start as Champion (0-1) figured out the Bulldogs interior defense, but that would soon change. Champion led Lakeview 20-16 at the end of the first quarter.

“We pride ourselves on checking out on every possession. We talked about this all the way back in June that we are going to be smaller than pretty much every team that we are going to play,” Lakeview coach Ryan Fitch said. “Our schedule is brutal night in and night out. If we don’t put a body on someone and get a solid checkout, we aren’t going to win.”

Fitch said that for his guys a possession isn’t over on defense until the rebound is secure and the team is out in transition. He prides his team on that.

In the second quarter, Lakeview slowed Champion down tremendously as the Golden Flashes scored just six points while the Bulldogs scored 17. Lakeview led at halftime, 33-26.

Tribune Chronicle / Marc Weems Jared Day of Champion, center, drives to the hoop against Lakeview's T.J. Lynch, left, and Carter Huff, right, on Friday.

“They run their offense really, really well. Coach Fitch has done a really good job of getting them to understand his offense. On top of that, they can flat out shot the ball,” Champion coach Nathan Kish said. “For us, it’s a learning tool.”

In the second half, Lakeview continued to shoot the ball extremely well. The Bulldogs used a balanced attack of passing and scoring along with rebounding to continue to keep their lead. Lakeview led 50-41 at the end of three quarters.

“Everybody is going to have their runs but I think we had more and that’s what did it for us,” Lakeview forward Drew Munno said.

In the fourth quarter, Lakeview’s shooting caught fire. A.J. McClellan hit three 3-pointers to push the Bulldogs’ lead even further.

“We talked about three stages of changing culture and then you have to start competing every night,” Fitch said. “Eventually, you can start winning as a program. A couple of years ago we tried to change the culture and get to a point. Last year, we lost some games we should have won. We were in a lot of games.”

Fitch believes a win like this against a rival sets a big tone for the rest of the season.

“For this team we have one starter that is returning, new coaching and I’m asking them to do a lot of things I did last year,” Kish said about the Flashes. “I take this game as an ‘I know where we are and I know what we have to work on.’ “