By Mike Monahan

Lake Land sophomore Arnardo Camacho used a floater – or a teardrop or runner, if you will – to help him score a career-high 20 points Wednesday night in a Great Rivers Athletic Conference men’s basketball game. 

Camacho, a 6-foot-4, 200 pounder from the Bronx, says he works on this overhand, high-arcing shot intended to float over taller opponents every morning.

“I would rather have him shoot that mid-range shot,” Lake Land coach Julian Larry said, “but that is what he does and he does it well. So, I can’t complain too much.”

Lake Land improved to 7-3 overall and 1-1 in the GRAC with an 87-82 game over Wabash Valley the Lakers’ best start since the 2017-18 season when they won 11 of their first 13.

Lake Land led by 18 after a basket by Dailis Cox with 3:54 left that made it 83-65. 

Wabash Valley, though, went on a 17-4 run to close – the final shot a 3-pointer by Simon Wilson with 4.1 seconds remaining. 

“We need to learn to finish,” said Larry.

The Lakers had a key 10-3 run during a span of 3:08 in the last eight minutes of the game padding its lead from 73-62 lead to the 18 point margin. Camacho scored 10 straight points in 2:58 starting with a floater with 7:45 left for a 73-58 advantage. He sank two free throws for a 77-63 advantage and dunked the ball as well as made his final basket of the run for an 81-65 lead. 

“To be honest, I just had to keep the momentum going,” said Camacho, a graduate of National Christian Academy in Fort Washington, Maryland. “I ran the offense like coach Larry said. I just wanted to get the win in this rivalry game. To beat Wabash Valley means a lot to coach Larry, and so we had to get him that win.”

In the first half, Lake Land used a 10-3 run in a span of 3:02 to go from an 18-12 lead to a 28-15 advantage as the run was highlighted by a dunk by Johnny Close on a pass form Yassem Hussein and a spin move by Jahmir Tyrell to end the run. 

Lake Land, which finished the game 36-of-74 (486) from the field, started the game out hot, sinking 12-of-17 (.706) in the opening 10:34 to help them to a 13-point advantage. The half was also very well played with only eight turnovers total, including two by the Lakers, who led 47-35 at the break. 

“In the past few games, our execution is getting a lot better,” said Larry. “That is our main goal – just to get better every game. Sometimes we go up and down, but today I think we were pretty consistent in what we were wanting to do.”

One of the keys for the victory was the matchup between 6-9, 260-pound sophomore Ksaun Casey of Wabash Valley and Lake Land sophomore Hussein, a 6-9 215 pounder. 

“They’re big is very talented for his size,” said Larry. “He moves very well with the ball and has great footwork. Hussein and Amar Kuljuhovic had the big task of slowing him down. They (his players) ran harder and played harder, and that is why we were successful.”

Hussein had 17 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Casey had 15 points and seven rebounds. 

“One of our main goals was to crash the boards,” said Larry. “So, we did a pretty good job on that.”

Camacho admits the college game in the Midwest is different for him. 

“I am not used to it,” said Camacho. “I am used to playing street basketball in New York.”

The Lakers man-to-man defense forced the Warriors into 15 turnovers. 

“One thing about us is we are trying to be prepared as possible coming into games,” said Larry. “Defensively, I think that is the key. I think our preparation helped us on the defensive end.”

Camacho’s previous high had been 19 in a 94-86 loss to Kaskaskia last February. He entered the game averaging 6.8 points. 

“A.C. (Arnardo Camacho) is a tremendous talent, he truly is,” said Larry. “He is one of the best passers in the country. He is third in the country in assists (7.1 average). When he is on (9-of-12 from the field) and taking care of the basketball, he is extremely hard to guard. And he helps us out tremendously. When he is playing well, we are hard to beat.”

Camacho finished with 10 assists. 

The Lakers have split their last six games.

Since the 73-66 win over Parkland on Nov. 19 the Lakers lost to Southwestern Illinois 91-72, knocked off Southeastern, the No. 26 team in Division II 80-66, and lost to No. 19 Bryant & Stratton (Wisconsin), 81-68. 

“We have to get some consistency,” said Larry, whose team travels to Centralia to play Kaskaskia Saturday at 3 p.m.

On Dec. 7, they also face Lewis & Clark, which eliminated LLC 99-93 last season, on Dec. 7

Lake Land is now 1-1 in the GRAC, while the Warriors fall to 6-3, 0-2.

Wabash Valley3547 –82
Lake Land4740 –87

WABASH VALLEY: Clay 5 5-6 15, Jones 1 0-0 2, Heady 4 9-9 19, Nettles 3 0-0 6, Casey 6 3-6 15, Trice 3 1-2 8, Rayzor-Moore 3 0-0 6, Wilson 3 1-2 10, Fraley 0 1-2 1, Madison 0 0-0 0, Totals 28 20-27 82

3-point goals: 6-15 (.400) (Heady 2, Wilson 3, Trice 1). Field goals 28-63 (444). Rebounds: 31 (Heady 10), Turnovers: 15, Bench points 25

LAKE LAND: Close 6 0-0 13, Cox 5 0-0 11, Camacho 9 2-3 20, Kuljuhovic 2 4-6 8, Hussein 7 5-3 17, Davis 2 2-2 7, Carroll 1 1-2 3, Tyrell 2 0-0 4, Neal 0 0-0 0, Moore 0 0-0 0, Diof 2 0-0 4, Totals 36 12-20 87

3-point goals: 3-10 (.300) (Close 1, Cox 1, Davis 1). Field goals: 36-74 (.486). Rebounds: 45 (Kuljuhovic 14, Hussein  10), bench points 18