By ERIC FORTUNE
For the Star Beacon
Jefferson boys basketball coach Jeremy Huber expected a dogfight and he got one.
It took some big plays from Justin Butler and Troy Bloom when it mattered most in the final quarter for the Falcons to turn away the Lakeview Bulldogs in All-American Conference play, 55-46.
“Lakeview is competitive and they play hard,” Huber said. “They have a lot of pride. They play physical. They’re going to rebound. They’re not out of the game with them. They’re going to fight and fight and claw — trying to win the game.”
The Falcons played without 6-foot-7 junior center David Chase, who will have surgery today to repair a broken bone in his right hand. The big guy hopes to return before the end of the regular season.
For one of the few times this season, the Bulldogs marched out to a quick 8-3 advantage only to see the Falcons run off a 15-0 stretch to close out the quarter.
“We do that every game,” Lakeview coach Craig Mild said. “This is the first game we actually got off to a decent start. We go through highs and lows. It’s almost like we’re bipolar. We play good for three minutes and then we’ll play bad for the next eight to 10 minutes and dig ourselves holes.”
Mild’s description was right on again as Lakeview began to claw back into the game thanks in large part to Jefferson’s 3-for-10 shooting from the charity stripe.
The Falcons were cruising for the first three minutes of the quarter while maintaining a 13-point advantage and were attacking the basket at will. Though getting fouled by Lakeview helped to slow the pace of the game down and stopped shots from dropping in the case of Jefferson.
“They did a good job of putting some pressure on us,” Huber said. “I thought our kids did a good job though of handling that full-court pressure. We got some isos a couple times trying to get some easy scores put up.”
Though the Bulldogs continued to battle through and erased Jefferson’s 10 point halftime advantage and made it 37-34 going into the final quarter. By that time though, too much had been put into the comeback Lakeview made just two field goals in the final four minutes of the game.
“The kids were playing hard for us and then they gassed out,” Mild said. “We can’t climb that hill every day to constantly come back. When we get back to where we need to be, we don’t have the legs or energy to get over that hump. We do not put 32 minutes of basketball together. “
Still, those shots from Butler and Bloom took it from 44-41 Jefferson to 51-41 in a span of a minute and closed whatever Lakeview had left.
“We just try to keep getting better every day,” Huber said. “A lot of the teams are equal in strength. You can win or lose any night.”
Fortune is a freelance writer from McDonald.