Lake's first loss creates tie atop the Federal League
LAKE TWP. The verbal sparring began early in Tuesday night’s Federal League showdown at Lake High School.
“Undefeated,” the Blue Streaks student section chanted in the opening minutes, to which Green countered with, “Not for long.”
Kaleb Martin and his teammates give the Green students good reason for such confidence.
Martin scored 30 points and Green dominated the first half before hanging on for a 52-49 win, which hands Lake its first loss and creates a tie atop the Federal League.
The Bulldogs (7-3, 5-1) showed no rust from a 10-day layoff. Clearly, they put the extra practice time to good use.
“I think our kids just believed they could come in here and win,” Green head coach Mark Kinsley said. “We felt since the first of the year we’ve had some really good practices. We felt we were playing better and we didn’t talk about being off. There’s nothing we can control there. We’re just proud of the kids tonight. They came in and, from the opening tip, played like they believed.”
The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Martin produced a gigantic performance.
He scored 17 first-half points on an array of 3-pointers, pull-up jumpers and driving buckets. He added timely points in the second half, along with handling the ball and against Lake’s desperate pressure.
He was elusive. He was efficient. He was in control.
The junior guard made 8 of 13 shots from the field, 4 of 6 from 3-point range and all 10 of his free throws as he backed up a 33-point effort against Jackson on Jan. 5.
“We’re usually a tough place to play, and he made this his home tonight,” Lake head coach Tom McBride said.
The Blue Streaks had handed Green its only previous league loss, a 53-44 decision back on Dec. 8.
“The first game we were still learning,” Martin said. “We have a lot of young guys, and the transition we made from the beginning of the season to now is tremendous. We’ve all grown as players and our bond together is so strong that we just know each other’s games.”
It showed Tuesday.
Green led 33-15 at halftime, marking the most points the Blue Streaks had allowed and the fewest points they had scored in a half all season. Entering the night, Lake was yielding an average of 38.7 points a game.
Green’s Devin Limerick scored eight of his 10 points in the first half to go with three assists, and fellow senior Corey Oswald make a pair of first-half 3-pointers on his way to seven points on the night.
Lake made some headway in the third quarter, but Martin knocked down a 3-pointer with a second left to put Green up 16 entering the fourth.
“I thought the one at the end of the third was really kind of the dagger that hurt us,” McBride said.
Martin then made all eight of his free throw attempts in the final 3:25 of the fourth quarter, barely hitting rim in the process.
“I love shooting free throws,” Martin said. “It’s something I’m good at. Pressure is not in my vocabulary.”
Green didn’t make a field goal in the fourth, but connected on 11 of 14 free throws to keep Lake at bay.
Lake’s furious rally simply ran out of time.
After missing their first nine 3-point attempts on the night, the Blue Streaks made four in the final 3:58, including three in the final minute.
Jeremy Brady’s 3-pointer in the waning seconds pulled Lake within three points, but Green simply let the clock run out before throwing a long pass to the opposite end of the court.
Junior Jake Maranville led Lake (9-1, 5-1) with 13 points. Senior Mike Spotleson battled foul problems most of the night before fouling out in the fourth quarter with nine points. Twin brother Matt Spotleson added eight.
McBride didn’t like his Blue Streaks’ shot selection and thought their “competitive spirit” was lacking early on.
“That’s a learning experience for us,” he said. “We’re still young in some spots. Losses always find a way to get you to figure some things out.”
Reach Josh at 330-580-8426
On Twitter: @jweirREP