Lakota West and Lakota East players battle for a rebound during the boys’ basketball game on Friday, Dec. 20, 2013. (Tony Tribble for the Enquirer)
Mike Dyer reports:
Lakota West boys’ basketball coach Sean Van Winkle and Lakota East coach Wally Vickers believe their teams still haven’t played their best basketball yet.
That fact alone makes tonight’s rivalry game at East even more intriguing considering it was a two-point Lakota West win (45-43) just a few weeks ago (Dec. 20).
“When East and West play it’s usually a pretty tight game,” Van Winkle said Monday afternoon.
Lakota West (7-1 overall, 5-0 Greater Miami Conference) has won three straight games since a three-point loss at Elder Dec. 17. The Firebirds are ranked No. 2 in The Enquirer Division I area coaches’ poll.
Senior guards Malik Grove (14.9 points per game) and Tyler Williams (13.4 ppg.) are among the statistical leaders for the Firebirds.
Van Winkle would like to see improvement on the offensive end especially a greater number of assists. He said the half-court defense has played well.
“I think they have the best starting five in the league one through five,” Vickers said.
The Thunderhawks are ranked No. 9 in The Enquirer poll and Vickers wants to see more consistency from his squad going forward. Junior guard Alex White had 13 points in a 59-58 win over Hamilton Jan. 3. Junior guard Dylan Lowry averages 16.3 points. Bench production was key also on Friday.
Lakota East (7-4, 3-2) has won two straight games this season.
Vickers and Van Winkle also understand the importance of the game to the community.
“It’s always a fun game,” Vickers said. “The kids love it.”
Lakota West completed an impressive weekend of work by beating Withrow 69-56 Monday night in the championship game of the inaugural LaRosa’s Royal 8 Hardwood Classic at Fairfield.
Lakota West junior Malik Grove led Lakota West with 21 points in a 69-56 win against Withrow in the championship game of the inaugural LaRosa’s Royal 8 Hardwood Classic at Fairfield Jan. 21, 2013. Photo taken at an earlier game this season against Lakota East Jan. 8, 2013 by Joseph Fuqua II.
The Firebirds, unranked in last week’s Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll, got 49 points from the guard trio of Ali Barnes, Tyler Williams and Malik Grove to hand the No. 4 Tigers just their second loss in 14 games this season.
Lakota West beat No. 3 St. Xavier 55-50 in Sunday’s semifinals. The Firebirds have now won six straight games to improve to 10-4 on the season.
The three guards took turns as leading scorers in the three-game tournament; Williams had 22 against Anderson on Saturday, Barnes had 18 against St. Xavier and Grove had 21 points on 8-of-17 shooting against Withrow.
Barnes was named the Player of the Game Monday as he had 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Williams added 11 points and seven assists.
“When we’re rolling like that we’re the best team in the city,” said Barnes. “When us three guards are playing like that and we’re together everyone is knocking down shots. When we’re knocking down shots it opens up the inside game for people like Tyler Bowling and Justin (Martin) and Zach Moo Young.”
Bowling, a 6-foot-8 junior center, scored 13 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Firebirds won the battle of the boards 43-35. Withrow had 21 offensive rebounds with 18 second-chance points against Fairfield in the semifinals but had just six second-chance points on 12 offensive rebounds Monday.
“We knew they were going to come out and be overly-aggressive and attack the boards after every missed shot so we had everybody crashing the boards,” said Bowling, who had his fifth double-figuring rebounding game of the season. “We knew that’s what we needed to do to win.”
Monday was the fourth game in four days for Withrow. The Tigers beat Woodward in a Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference game Friday night before beating Turpin and No. 7 Fairfield to reach the final.
The teams were tied, 12-12, at the end of the first quarter but Lakota West outscored Withrow 17-9 over the final 5:28 of the second quarter to take control. Grove had 10 points during that run, including two 3-pointers and a spinning baseline jumper two seconds before halftime to give the Firebirds a 35-25 lead.
Withrow never got closer than six points in the second half.
“No excuses but we were dog tired,” said Withrow coach Ty Gibert. “West played lights out tonight and they’re playing great ball. I’m not taking anything away from them. They beat us but we were dog tired. We ran into a buzz saw tonight.”
Senior guard Corey Wise scored 24 points to lead the Tigers, while senior guard Timothy Coleman added 14.
Withrow shot just 38.7 percent (24 of 62) from the field overall and made just four of its 22 attempts from 3-point range. The Tigers went to the free throw line just six times, making four of their attempts.
Lakota West held St. Xavier to 21-of-61 (34.4 percent) shooting in the semifinals, utilizing an aggressive zone in both games.
“We were really trying to protect and cover up Coleman as much as we could,” said Lakota West coach Sean Van Winkle. “He got some shots off but they weren’t on the 3-point line, they were about 25-feet out. The guys did a great job with the scouting report the last two games with that in mind.”
With one of its top scorers stuck on the bench, Fairfield led by senior Keon Benjamin defeated Lakota West by the score of 70-59 in a battle of Greater Miami Conference second place teams Tuesday.
Benjamin knocked down four 3-pointers and scored a career high 24 points, while Fairfield’s second-leading scorer Brandon Murphy had to sit out after recording two technical fouls in the Indians’ 47-43 win against Oak Hills Friday.
“We say it all the time, ‘next guy in has to play,’” Fairfield head coach Tim Austing said. “It is part of the season, guys will go down with injuries or get in foul trouble. You just have to move on.”
“Keon creates a difficult matchup because it makes them cover a 3-point shooter with a center. It only works if you can really shoot it and Keon can really shoot it.”
The Firebirds, who were coming off a 56-53 upset win against Middletown Friday, led the game 20-16 at the end of the first quarter. Junior shooting guard Ali Barnes was perfect in the quarter, going 3-for-3 from the floor and was 1-for-1 at the free-throw line.
Benjamin, however, would knock down a 3-pointer during a 9-0 Fairfield scoring run to begin the second frame. After a pair of free throws by Benjamin, Fairfield increased its lead to 11 points with 2:03 left in the third quarter.
Lakota West quickly cut the lead to three after going on an 8-0 run of its own, capped off by an old fashioned 3-point play by Barnes.
The comeback attempt was eventually spoiled when Benjamin made his fourth 3-pointer of the game, giving Fairfield a 54-47 with 3:55 left in the game.
“I was just dialed in,” Benjamin said. “We have a little rivalry with them – they don’t like us, we don’t like them. That is what really gave me my motivation.”
Along with Benjamin, Fairfield was able to hang onto the victory thanks to making 28 of its 34 free throws. Combining to make 17 of those shots from the foul stripe, senior guards Kyle Smith and Jeff Woods finished with 16 and 19 points, respectively.
“That had to be our best free-throw shooting performance all season,” Benjamin said. “We have just been focusing in practice, shooting many more free throws than we normally have. Especially this week because we knew we were going to get fouled.”
Meanwhile, Lakota West had three players score in double figures including junior Monty Boykins (18 points), sophomore Tyler Williams (14 points) and Barnes (13 points).
Another bright spot for the Firebirds was the play of sophomore Tyler Bowling. The 6-foot-7 center started his first game of the season and scored 8 points before fouling out in 13 minutes of playing time.
“To sum it up, the better team won the game” Lakota West head coach Sean Van Winkle said. “It is as simple as that. The team that played good team defense won the game. Hopefully, we can get to that point before the season is out.”
Fairfield 70, Lakota West 59
Fairfield (12-2, 6-2 in the GMC): Turner 2 3 7, Barlow 0 2 2, Fleming 1 0 2, Smith 5 4 16, Woods 3 13 19, Benjamin 7 6 24. Totals 18 28 70.
Lakota West (8-6, 5-3 in the GMC): Bowling 4 0 8, Martin 1 0 2, Blue 2 0 4, Barnes 5 1 13, Williams 5 2 14, Boykins 6 3 18. Totals 23 6 59.
Halftime score: 32-27 Fairfield. 3-pointers: F 6 (Smith 2, Benjamin 4); LW 7 (Barnes 2, Williams 2, Boykins 3)
Oak Hills erased a 19-point second half deficit, but came up short at the buzzer losing 56-47 to Lakota West Tuesday.
After leading Lakota West in scoring down the stretch last season, junior guard Ali Barnes waited until the final minutes of the season opener to get in the scoring column.
With the score tied 42-42 with three minutes to play, Barnes drilled a three pointer. He would later score on a lay up and make two free throws, as the Firebirds ended the game on a 14-5 run.
“When I took the three in the corner it was a little nerve racking. It was my first jumper of the season and it was when the game was tied, they were coming back and the crowd was out of it,” Barnes said.
“It felt good. It was a big shot to make and I just knocked it down.”
It appeared that Firebirds wouldn’t need any late-game heroics after jumping out to 33-14 lead in the third quarter.
Lakota West started to accumulate its big lead when 6-foot-4 senior Kayaune Ross scored 12 first-half points off the bench.
Ross, who entered the game without scoring more than two points in a varsity game, also finished with four rebounds.
Feeding off the energy in the first half, Lakota West began the second half on a 7-0 run.
Battling back, the Highlanders cut the Firebirds’ lead to 38-31 after three-point field goals from seniors Ben Laumann and Jack Pflum late in the third quarter. (more…)
The Lakota West boys’ basketball program will have the opportunity to tune up for the regular season and benefit local charities in a home exhibition game against St. Xavier Friday. The varsity teams are scheduled to take the court at 7:30 p.m.
The OHSAA provides teams the opportunity to replace a scrimmage with a “foundation game.” This game consists of two teams playing under normal game conditions, but does not count toward either team’s overall record. Schools are required to participate in a community service project benefiting a charity of their choice in conjunction with the game.