Lake Land’s inconsistent ability to finish games cost them against Olney Central.
And Johnny Close’s 32 points weren’t enough as the Lakers lost to the Blue Knights, 77-73, on Saturday afternoon.
Lake Land saw its second double-digit lead of the game disappear midway through the second half over the course of five minutes as the Lakers turned the ball over on four consecutive possessions that enabled Olney to go on a 9-0 run.
Lakers head coach Julian Larry said the team is having issues with decision-making that’s costing them to finish out games.
“That’s where we’re struggling at right now,” he said. “Making decisions in important times of the game. We have to continue to get better at that. I think we played a lot harder in competed at a longer period of time than we have in the past. There’s that 5-8 minute drought that we just look out of control and struggle at.”
Lake Land started by passing inside to Yassin Hussein. The 6-foot-9 center scored four points as Lake Land built an early 9-3. Yet, the Lakers only went back to Hussein once more, in the second half when he dunked.
“I think sometimes we have to remember what we’re good at,” Larry said. “Then also, sometimes, our bigs have to play a little bit harder.”
The Lakers took a 55-52 lead on two free throws by Jahmir Tyrell, before Olney Central would go on a 7-0 run punctuated by a 3-pointer by Mershon Dickerson, who led the Blue Knights’ with 27 points.
“We were struggling with the hedges – him hedging getting downhill,” Larry said. “Once he was getting downhill, their guards were looking for him for 3s or shots he was gettting at the rim. That’s where we were struggling at that 5-8 minute stretch that we have to be better at sticking with what we’re doing.”
Lake Land lost point guard in Arnardo Camacho for the final seven minutes of the game when he took a hard fall trying to get a rebound.
The Lakers erased a 10-point deficit getting to within 74-73, but 6-foot-10 Olney Central forward Gavin Gilstrap made a tip-in just over Hussein with 18 seconds remaining.
Hussein avoided fouling the Blue Knight, something that plagued the Lakers all game. Olney took 30 free-throw attempts, four coming in the last 1.3 seconds on a foul that stopped the clock, and another pair assessed to the Lakers bench.
The loss spoiled a phenomenal shooting night for Close, who finished with eight 3-pointers, but Larry said individual stats don’t matter right now.
“He can play,” Larry said. “Johnny had a good game, but all that doesn’t matter if we don’t win. Stats don’t matter for us right now. That 32 might sound better if we’re winning, so we’re not worried about that.”
Larry said it was “most definitely” disappointing to see those leads lost.
“That’s those times where we lose that sense of urgency,” he said. “Our decision-making goes out the window. Us trying to find a good five to get that done is where we’re at right now.”
|Olney Central College||29||48 –||77|
|Lake Land College||38||35 –||73|
OLNEY CENTRAL – Dickerson 9 4-6 27, Simms 2 0-0 5, Lewis 6 5-6 18, Faatz 2 0-0 4, Thomas 3 6-8 12, Blanford 0 2-2 2, Gilstrap 2 5-8 9. 3-pointers: Dickerson 5, Simms 1, Faatz 1. Totals: 24 22-30 77.
LAKE LAND – Close 12 0-0 32, Tyrell 1 3-4 5, Chapman 4 0-0 8, Davis 1 0-0 2, Kuljuhovic 4 6-7 14, Diof 3 0-0 6, Hussein 3 0-0 6. 3-pointers: Close 8. Totals: 28 9-11, 73.