Tom Ramstetter reports:
Lakota East scored in bunches and used several scoring runs Friday night in a 64-51 win over Princeton in a Greater Miami Conference boys’ basketball game at Princeton.
East, ranked No. 3 in the latest Enquirer Division I coaches’ poll, moved to 6-0 overall and 2-0 in the GMC. Princeton fell to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the conference. The Vikings are tied with Middletown for the No. 7 spot in the Division I poll.
The Thunderhawks opened the game on a 9-0 run and started the second half on a 7-0 run, providing the cushion needed to escape with a conference road win.
“We have the ability to score in bunches,” Lakota East coach Wally Vickers said. “It doesn’t matter when you get them. I’ll take a bunch here and a bunch there. But the quick start in the game and the second half were certainly important factors.
“To go on the road in our league can be a tough hill, so I was really proud of us.”
Senior guard Robbie Harpring led the 9-0 to start the game and finished the quarter with nine points.
Harpring finished with a team high 15 points.
“We always come out pumped up,” Harpring said. “As a team, we always want to come out and win the first three minutes. That’s what we did – we won the first three minutes.”
Princeton did not get on the board until a Darius Hilson put-back with 4:26 to play in the opening quarter.
“That’s a great thing for us,” Harpring said. “The team came out ready to play and it’s big when you’re on the road.”
The Thunderhawks’ 7-0 run to start the second half built 38-25 lead and East led 42-36 heading into the final period.
Princeton rallied to within 45-40 early in the fourth quarter, but the Thunderhawks responded with a 7-0 run midway through the fourth and led 52-40 after a 3-pointer by Stedman Lowry.
The Vikings cut it to 52-43 on a on a traditional 3-point play by senior guard Dorian Jordan, but sophomore center Alex White answered for East with a layup and then two free throws on the following possession to start an 8-0 run. Two free throws each by Dylan Lowry and Harpring gave East a 60-43 lead and that was that.
“At that point, we were frustrated ourselves because we really didn’t get it inside much,” Vickers said. “We struggled to execute at times, even when we were scoring. We just kept saying we’ve got to get it inside. We’ve got to get it to Alex. We got it to him a couple times late and we got what we wanted from it.”
Jordan led all scorers with 17 points for Princeton.
Harpring led three Thunderhawks in double figures. Stedman Lowry added 11 and Austin Emrick scored 10.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that can make shots,” Vickers said. “Robbie got a lot of opportunities tonight especially early and showed he’s capable of making shots. We’ve got a lot of guys that can do it, that’s for sure.”
Lakota East will play at cross-district rival Lakota West Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. in a non-league game between the two GMC schools, according to Vickers.
“So to me this was the important one,” Vickers said. “This was the have-to-win (for the GMC race).”
The Vikings will seek to regroup Tuesday night at Colerain when the Cardinals and Vikings will tip off at 7:30 p.m.
Lakota East (6-0, 2-0 GMC): Emrick 5 0 10, Harpring 6 2 15, S. Lowry 4 0 11, D. Lowry 1 2 5, Panzeca 2 0 4, Baxter 3 3 9, White 3 4 10. Totals 24 11 64.
Princeton (2-1, 1-1): Jordan 6 3 17, Tivis 4 0 8, Abrams 1 0 2, Hilson 3 0 6, Bosel 3 0 6, Blevins 1 1 3, Walters 3 3 9. Totals 21 7 51.
Halftime: Lakota East 31-25. 3-pointers: LE 5 (S. Lowry 3, Harpring, D. Lowry), P 2 (Jordan 2).