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The Suburbanite
  • Senior Night emotions not enough for Tigers

  • Riding a jolt of emotion on Senior Night and looking to close out their regular season with a win, the Lake Center Christian Tigers delivered what their coach deemed their "most complete" effort of the season.

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  • Riding a jolt of emotion on Senior Night and looking to close out their regular season with a win, the Lake Center Christian Tigers delivered what their coach deemed their "most complete" effort of the season.
    Unfortunately, the Western Reserve Blue Devils were just a little bit better and claimed a 40-37 road victory.
    The Tigers had extra energy from the temporary return of injured senior guard Melanie Harvey, who had missed the entire season recovering from a head injury sustained during soccer in the fall. On Senior Night, coach Paul Zacour gave Harvey the chance to dress, go through warm-ups with her teammates and be introduced as a starter.
    Then, in a scene the Tigers (2-20) had been on the opposite end of against Barberton, allowing the opposing team to win the opening tip and score a basket, they allowed Western Reserve to take the tip and score so Harvey could receive a pass under the basket and score before being removed from the game to a loud ovation.
    "It meant a lot. I wanted to surprise her, but she came on Thursday and said she actually saw something like that at a Springfield game and I acted like a big jerk, trying to fool her like, 'Oh, we don't do that stuff,' but eventually the secret came out," Zacour admitted. "But I was very happy and proud of her because she has been here through everything and continued to be a part of the team."
    After the tribute, the game began in earnest and neither team was able to gain much separation.
    LCCS was able to create scoring chances by attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line but converted just 5-of-13 from the stripe in the opening half. They also missed all five of their 3-pointers in the first 16 minutes and, despite out-rebounding the Blue Devils 22-18 for the half, they couldn't generate enough scoring to take the lead.
    Freshman point guard Brianna Miller notched six points in the first half and had help from junior forward Emily Hofer. Senior guard Olivia Myers suffered through 0-for-7 shooting in the half and missed her only free throw of the half.
    Western Reserve was only slightly better, and two 3-pointers from guard April Lude helped propel the Blue Devils (9-7) to a 21-17 halftime edge. One of Lude's trifectas banked in on a shot from the top of the key, leaving an exasperated Zacour to raise his arms as if to say, "What else can we do?"
    "They threw in some shots, banked in threes, stuff like that, but we played hard the entire game," he said.
    The pace slowed even further in the third quarter as the two sides combined for just 12 points. The Tigers' old nemesis, turnovers, reared their head and the 14 miscues LCCS committed gave a still-lost Western Reserve offensive the easy baskets and scoring chances it needed while clanking shots off the rim with regularity en route to shooting 25 percent (5 of 20) and making 3-of-9 free throws after halftime.
    Page 2 of 2 - Conversely, LCCS was able to continue its aggressive play and Miller was the ring leader in taking it to the rack. She earned nine free-throw attempts in the final two quarters and sank seven, helping the Tigers stay in the game despite foul trouble and turnovers. However, the freshman also showed her youthful inexperience in fouling out late in the fourth quarter.
    With Miller on the bench, LCCS was devoid of its best ball handler. That deficiency manifested itself when Myers committed a charging foul with 45.7 seconds left as the Tigers had a chance to close to within one or tie with a
    3-pointer.
    "They had been calling it tight all game. As a coach, you'd like to let the players make the plays at the end of the game, but that was not why we lost the game," Zacour said.
    Instead, they had to resume their tactic of fouling to send Western Reserve to the line, and forward Tory White obliged by missing her last three attempts, keeping the Tigers' hopes alive.
    Zacour called a timeout with 6.7 seconds left, but the Blue Devils applied full-court pressure and with Miller on the bench, the Tigers turned the ball over just past midcourt to seal their fate.
    The loss was another tough setback for a team whose adversity may not be fully reflected by its 2-20 record. Still, Zacour believes the performance was one of the Tigers' best of the season.
    "We played hard and we competed. I can honestly say that was our most complete game for all 32 (minutes). We came out and competed," he said. "I'm proud of them, really. They had chances to fold throughout that game, but they fought back."

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