Lakeview gets past Champion despite shooting woes
CORTLAND — Over the last couple of weeks, Nathan Kish and Ryan Fitch were talking about their team’s offensive woes and the struggle to get buckets.
Earlier in the day, the two coaches joked that whoever gets to 40 first might just get this one and start off the season with that first win.
In the end, the Lakeview Bulldogs hit that number as they came away with a 44-30 victory over the Champion Golden Flashes Friday night in a doubleheader with the girls team.
“We just didn’t score the basketball,” Kish said. “It just comes down to it. We held them into the 40s and you lose by 14. It’s not good. I’m not down on the guys. We’re going to get better. It’s game one against a good basketball team. We’ll work and get after it and try to improve.”
Junior captains Brendon Kilpatrick and Ryan Carnahan led the Bulldogs with 16 and 12 points respectfully.
Kilpatrick also had 10 rebounds to finish with a double-double.
“Brendon played a lot of minutes for us last year as a sophomore,” Fitch said. “I expect them every night to go out and make plays for us. If we’re going to win basketball games this year, at the end of the night, when I look up they both have to be in double figures and doing the little things on the court. I expect Brendon to have a double-double every night. If he stays there, we should be OK.”
It was a hard thought sloppy game for Lakeview, which is two years removed from a regional semifinal appearance and a district semifinal appearance last year. Kilpatrick is the only starter from last year for a team that is starting three sophomores and two juniors.
“You expect it in game one,” Fitch said. “We have one returning starter who played minutes last year. Four of our starters have technically never been involved in major varsity minutes where it mattered. I knew that is what we were expecting. I give our kids credit, they made just enough plays to come out on top.”
The plays came within stretches of shooting woes that reared their heads throughout the game. At least initially, both Champion and Lakeview were exchanging 3-pointers as Kilpatrick had three of his game four 3s in the opening quarter. Champion’s Chase Lindsay responded with a pair as well to make it 6-all early on.
Though after Nick Stahlman split a pair of free throws at the 4:35 mark of the opening quarter to give the Golden Flashes a 7-6 lead, the Bulldogs finished out the quarter on a 9-0 run to give them a 15-7 lead they would never relinquish.
Champion shot 2-of-15 from the field in the opening quarter and finished 10-of-44 for the game.
Abe Bayus led Champion with eight points. Austin Willforth finished with 11 rebounds.
“If we would have just knocked down a couple of shots it’s a different game, but we didn’t do that,” Kish said. “It’s just that simple. They played good defense. They’re long. They force you to try and hit 3s and we didn’t hit them.”
The Bulldogs built out their lead to 22-11 at the half despite shooting just 8-of-31 in the first half. They finished 15-of-44 for the game and in the opening half held Champion to 17 percent shooting.
“We take a lot of pride in our defense,” Fitch said. “We try to preach that if we’re not going to be scoring 70 to 80 points a game, we’ve got to start holding teams to 35, 40, 45 points a game.”
Lakeview built its lead out to 37-21 after the third quarter on 55 percent shooting with Nate Fox and Ryan Carnahan scoring four points each in the quarter.
“We lost a really incredible group of seniors last year,” Fitch said. “It’s going to take this group some experience. They need game experience. We can’t simulate in practice what’s going to happen on Tuesday and Friday night. We can’t do it no matter how hard we try.
“They need game experience and as far as expectations go, We have the same goals every year. We try to get to the district level and go from there and take our chances. Game-by-game, we’ll get more experience and they’ll feel more comfortable. We won’t force as many things as we did tonight. The schedule we have in the next six, we have to grow up fast.”