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Lakewood tops Granite Falls
LAKEWOOD — Lakewood basketball fans saw the caliber of basketball they have been hoping for this season in the Cougars' 67-55 win Jan. 12.
"Definitely it feels very good to win," said senior guard Cameron Fry. "We played as a team and picked each other up when somebody didn't make a shot."
The Cougars overcame two main problems for them this season during the game dubbed "The Cat Fight" against the Granite Falls Tigers in missing open shots and player role recognition.
"Granite Falls came out to play tonight," said Cougars coach Matt Hart. "This was kind of a rivalry game for us and it sure felt like it."
Lakewood played with purpose all game, starting with a 7-0 run at the start. That lead was erased, however, as Granite Falls found a way through the full-court press and led 15-11 at the end of the quarter.
The Lakewood press ended up forcing a dozen Granite Falls turnovers in the first half, which fueled an 11-2 run late in the first half and gave the Cougars a 33-28 advantage at the break.
"When we got set in that press, we were really effective," Hart said. "We had our hands in the air and got a lot of deflections."
Noticing the success of Lakewood's press, Granite Falls used their own press for most of the second half, which surprised the Cougars and resulted in another lead change at the end of the third with the Tigers up 49-46.
But that lead didn't last long as the Cougars found out a way to exploit that press.
"We knew as soon as they started pressing that if we got (the ball) to the middle, it was wide open," said Fry, who ended with team highs in points (13) and assists (4).
And the Cougars started running through it, but Tre' Haslom fouled out halfway through the quarter, putting pressure on the Cougars bench, which proved to be up to the task. The combination of Jacob VonPein, Shanan Bird and Cameron Jones scored 16 of the Cougars' 21 fourth-quarter points and senior center Nathan Diggs came up with three steals and a pair of crucial rebounds to maintain a 17-1 run.
"How about Cameron and Nathan?" Hart asked. "What a lift coming off the bench when we needed it."
Haslom ended with 12 points and VonPein had 11, including a key three-pointer to give the Cougars back the lead for good with 3:55 remaining.