Lake rallies from a 13-point first-half deficit and matches the best start to a season in team history with a win over McKinley.
Matching the team record for best start to a season was going to be a tall order for Lake after the Blue Streaks fell behind McKinley by 13.
This wasn’t uncharted waters for head coach Tom McBride’s players, though. Two weeks ago, the Blue Streaks climbed out of a 20-4 deficit and beat Perry to keep their perfect record intact.
Lake successfully completed another rally Friday night. The Blue Streaks outscored the Bulldogs 35-20 in the second half and improved to 9-0 with a 60-51 victory over McKinley.
The comeback helped Lake gain sole possession of first place in the Federal League.
“We had 13 days off, so we knew it was going to take a couple of minutes to get back in the flow,” senior forward Mitchell Spotleson said. “It was all about just keeping our heads in it, not ever backing down and being ready to attack when we needed to.”
Spotleson finished with a game-high 19 points, Alex Belinsky scored 16 and Chaese Vaudrin added 11 as the Blue Streaks equaled last year’s school record for best start. They will try to go 10-0 for the first time Tuesday when they travel to Jackson.
Lake’s big second half was set up by a crucial 9-2 run late in the second quarter.
A Paul Ortiz 3-pointer with 2:11 left in the first half gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead at 29-16. Spotleson completed a conventional 3-point play 10 seconds later to cut McKinley’s lead to 10.
After Ortiz’s steal and dunk, Belinsky and Chase Champagne buried back-to-back 3-pointers to close out the first half for Lake. Another 3 from Champagne to start the second half gave the Blue Streaks nine points on three straight possessions.
McKinley’s lead was all but gone.
“Runs are going to happen,” Bulldogs head coach Keith Noftz said. “I don’t care where you play, whether it’s at McKinley, Lake. You have to be ready for a team. Everyone is going to make a run in a game, whether you win by 20 or lose by 20.
“We were up 13 and we got away a little bit from what we were trying to do. ... We didn’t make enough plays after that.”
A decisive 9-1 fourth-quarter run broke the game open for the Blue Streaks. Belinsky’s jumper with 3:45 left gave them a 54-41 lead.
Lake led by as many as 17 before McKinley scored the game’s final eight points.
“This team has had that savvy,” McBride said. “We had a good timeout or two to figure out where we wanted to be by halftime, and they answered that call.
“We thought McKinley threw a great shot at us early and we were able to do our thing in the second half.”
Page 2 of 2 - Hollis Alexander finished with a team-high 15 points, Mike Mills scored 12, Ortiz had 11 and Sam Burton added 10 for the Bulldogs (2-6, 1-4), who have lost five in a row.
After losses to Cleveland St. Ignatius and Westerville North by a combined 45 points, Noftz saw signs of a team that may be on the verge of turning things around.
“Hopefully we just get better,” he said. “This team really needs a win to help them get some confidence back and start playing better.”