The Cougars were in a first-quarter jam until freshman Alex Jensen happened.
The Lakewood boys basketball team started out trailing Blaine in the opening quarter, eventually battling to a 15-15 tie.
Jensen was tied for 22 points with junior teammate Adam Duran who sunk a game-high seven 3-pointers, but it was Jensen who scored 13 points in the second quarter, and combined for four steals in the first half that helped Lakewood take off with a 37-25 halftime lead that held to a 70-48 win Jan. 30.
“[Jensen] really charges in the second quarter. He plays huge,” Lakewood coach Anthony Wiederkehr said. “He got a couple of very big steals, and really took Blaine out of their game a little bit too.”
The “ahead-of-the-curve” freshman has led Lakewood frequently in scoring with his overall basketball poise, this time scoring on breakaways caused by loose balls, and getting to the free-throw line.
“Physically and skill wise, I have seen freshmen as good as him or better,” Wiederkehr said. “But mentally, he’s such a smart player for his age, and he’s the leader of the team too.”
The win helped Lakewood lock into the sixth-seed of the 2A district playoffs — the post season the Cougars haven’t seen since 2007, coach Wiederkehr said.
“It feels good we’re going to go for sure,” Wiederkehr said. “It really hasn’t hit me yet after just getting done with the game.”
It was always a goal of the 2006 Lakewood alum since he became coach in 2014.
“It’s now a really young team, and it’s good that we’ll get this experience in,” Wiederkehr said. “Their going to be pumped that their reaching one of their goals this year.”
Though the Cougars are penciled in at sixth seed, Wiederkehr said he wants to”amplify” their seeding by winning out their three reaming regular-season games.
“Now it’s a matter of seeing how far we can take this the next couple of weeks,” he said.
Wiederkehr said he hopes his team “peaks at the right time” heading into districts.
“I think this was a statement win,” he said. “I’m hoping we are going to play our very best ball in the next two weeks and into districts.”
Not to be outdone, Duran’s 3-point shooting is one thing that Wiederkehr hopes transitions into playoffs.
“He’s just a great shooter,” Wiederkehr said. “He gets it off quick. great form. Obviously it helps us offensively because it’s a guy teams have to pay attention to and keep a guy on him.”