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Lakeview extends season with 54-45 victory over Howland

Correspondent photo / Robert Hayes Lakeview’s Colton Maiorca, center, battles Howland’s David Manios, left, and Gabe Badea for a loose ball during the Bulldogs’ 54-45 win.

CORTLAND — Lakeview boys basketball player Brendon Kilpatrick wasn’t ready for his career to end just yet.

Like the large mural covering one end of Lakeview’s gym, Kilpatrick made a huge presence within the confines of the gymnasium Tuesday night during a 54-45 win over Howland in the first round of Division II sectional play.

The 17th-seeded Tigers had only six wins, but tactfully came back following Trumbull County’s shutdown and played the maximum 22 regular-season games, an achievement in itself with COVID-19 forcing many cancellations.

Those Tigers led by 10 points midway through the third quarter, but Kilpatrick started a run, and the Bulldogs fought back. Senior Ryan Carnahan drove and scored, then Kilpatrick nailed a pair of consecutive 3-pointers to work his team back into the contest.

That sparked the 13th-seeded Bulldogs’ comeback and sent them into a sectional bracket final Friday at second-seeded Poland. Lakeview (8-6) lost to its Northeast-8 Bulldogs’ counterpart 43-32 in their last meeting on Feb. 16.

On Tuesday, Lakeview’s defense led to offense.

“At halftime we made a few adjustments to our offense,” Lakeview coach Ryan Fitch said. “We just weren’t getting real good spacing and were kind of playing on the same side of the court the whole time. Our screens weren’t effective. We talked a little bit about that and I told them at halftime that we’re defending OK, we’ve just got to get tighter to shooters.

“We left some people open sometimes. I think our defense picked up the pace for us, which got us going offensively.”

A key to Lakeview’s success was its ability to shoot the deep ball, with eight out of their 19 made field goals coming beyond the arc. Five of those eight 3s came courtesy of Kilpatick. The senior recorded a game-high 27 points.

“I just told myself, this ain’t it,” Kilpatrick said. “I just knocked down shots. I had to. This wasn’t going to be my last game.

“We do shoot a lot of 3s. It’s a big-time part of our offense. When they’re not falling, it’s tougher, but when they’re going in, it’s nice, for sure.”

The teams traded blows in the first half, but some momentum seemed to flow the Tigers’ way when senior DeRon Burke tipped in the ball off a miss with seconds remaining before halftime to give his team a 27-22 lead.

Junior Gabe Badea made back-to-back shots midway through the third, including a right hook floater and a tip-in to push the lead to 35-25.

Then Lakeview started its big run. The Bulldogs retgained the lead with 6:25 left, as Ryan Carnahan scored on an old-fashioned three-point play en route to finishing with 16 points.

Despite the solid outing offensively, Kilpatrick credited the team’s defensive effort.

“We’ve just got to keep up the intensity,” he said. “When we’re playing together, when we’re communicating, that’s when we’re at our best for sure.”

It wasn’t the season anyone envisioned for Howland, which finished 6-17. But the Tigers found a way to play a full slate, including games on four consecutive days. The 23 games were played in a stretch of 50 days.

“This feels like we’ve been in a sprint,” Howland coach Dan Bubon said. “Day-to-day, you don’t really know who you’re playing. We’re just watching film, getting ready for the next game. This is one the favorite groups I’ve coached, because when Anthony (Massucci) got hurt, we couldn’t score for about a week.

“We literally scored two points in a half against Boardman. We had some games where we scored 30 points, and that seems like four months ago. But it was only about three or four weeks ago. In the last week, we’ve been scoring in the 60s and 50s. Wwe’ve gotten a lot better defensively, really intense. But tonight our shooting woes came back.”

Eight of the 12 players that dressed for Howland will return next year.

“We have a chance to be really good next year,” he said. “I know these kids will come in and work.”

Badea paced Howland with 14 points. Senior Jordan Sperling scored nine.

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