Lake Stevens basketball boys opened their Wesco 4A season last week with a split versus Snohomish and Stanwood.
Lake won at Snohomish 51-43 on December 7, then lost at home to Stanwood by 52-47 on December 10.
Both games were decided in the fourth quarter, with Lake rallying for the victory at Snohomish but surrendering the lead late in the going against Stanwood.
Lake 51 at Snohomish 43
Better an ugly win than an ugly loss.
Lake couldn’t get its game together in the first half, especially inside the key where it holds a big advantage over the smaller Panthers.
The first two quarters were a shooting duel between guards Dakota Thomson of Lake Stevens (nine points in the first quarter and 11 overall for the half) and Snohomish’s Luke Hamlin (11 points in the first quarter including a trio of threes, and 15 points in the half).
Meanwhile, Lake’s big inside duo of Gunnar Eklund and Loren Vandegrift could muster just three points between them, on one of three shooting, before intermission.
Snohomish led 17-11 at the quarter and 31-24 at the half.
That changed dramatically after halftime when Eklund scored all 13 of his points and grabbed 15 of his 16 rebounds while Lake chipped away until finally taking the lead for good at 45-43 on Chad Paulson’s three with 2:26 left.
The Vikings, who trailed 41-35 after three quarters, outscored the Panthers by 16-2 in the fourth, holding Snohomish to one of 16 field goals and no free throw attempts. After a hot start, the Panthers missed 24 of their final 26 shots (including all nine of its threes in the fourth).
Hamlin, whose only basket of the second half came on a tip-in midway through the third quarter, finished with 17 points for the Panthers, who shot a miserable 29 percent for the game (16 of 56, including four of 20 threes). Lake shot 38 percent in each half (19 of 50 for the game, including three of 12 threes).
Lake, which had been outrebounded by the Panthers in each of the first three quarters, seized an 18-4 advantage in that department in the fourth quarter for an overall 44-34 margin.
Lake hurt itself with bad free throw shooting, making just 10 of 23, to seven of 11 for Snohomish.
The Panthers stayed competitive by committing just seven turnovers, to 11 for Lake.
Stanwood 52 at Lake 47
This time Lake lost it in the fourth, surrendering 19 points in the period to the Spartans who came from behind, outscoring Lake 6-0 in the game’s final 46 seconds.
Stanwood’s 6-5 center/forward Jordan Taylor took command of the game for his team, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter and 19 of his 22 in the second half.
Lake’s offense seemed out of sync when it tried to match the frenetic pace of Stanwood’s quick guards. The Vikings shot poorly from the perimeter, finishing with 35 percent overall on 19 of 55 (including three of 12 threes). Eklund and Vandegrift went a combined eight of 22, missing several close-in shots in frequently heavy traffic.
Lake trailed 9-8 at the quarter, led 21-19 at halftime, and trailed 33-32 after three quarters.
Lake led by as much as 43-38 on Vandegrift’s rebound basket with 3:52 left but Stanwood refused to buckle, taking a 44-43 lead on Freshman guard Josh Thayer’s three with 2:35 left.
Vandegrift’s lay-in off a feed by Paulson regained the lead for Lake at 45-44 with 2:10 left. Taylor’s lay-in at 1:17 made it 46-45 Stanwood but Paulson’s two free throws put Lake back ahead by 47-46 at the l:02 mark.
Another driving lay-in by Taylor put Stanwood ahead for good by 48-47 with 46 seconds left.
Vandegrift missed the front end of a one-and-one with 33 seconds left, and Lake could not convert a pair of rebound put-backs, including one by Vandegrift which hung on the rim and fell off.
Stanwood cinched the win with four straight free throws in the final 15 seconds.
Although the Spartans committed 22 turnovers to 14 by Lake, it seemed that the Viking turnovers were more disruptive than Stanwood’s.
Stanwood’s offense was especially efficient in the second half where the Spartans made 12 of 21 field goals and seven of eight free throws (overall Stanwood was 20 of 44 from the field, including four of 12 threes, and eight of 10 from the line).
Lake made just eight of 14 free throws and had only 10 assists -- one of its lowest totals in that department in the past several years.
Lake held a 33-31 rebounding edge.