I-L’s Sean Mahoney waits to go up for a shot while MA’s Aaron Davis (right) and John Fownes defend during the Lakers’ 65-38 win in Meredith on Jan. 15. Mahoney scored 22 points and added 17 rebounds in the win. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 21, 2013MEREDITH – Sean Mahoney was feeling it.
The Inter-Lakes High School senior center couldn't miss on Jan. 15, hitting shots from all over the court en route to a ridiculous stat line of 22 points and 17 rebounds. Mahoney's efforts led to some vindication for the Lakers, as they responded to a loss to Moultonborough Academy one week earlier with a convincing 65-38 victory in the rematch between the border rivals.
"He was just a beast," said I-L coach Mike Rathgeber of Mahoney. "His presence enabled us to get some really good looks. They had to play down on him and that opened up things for everyone else."
Mahoney's big night also led to big nights for teammates Kier Vicente and Mitch Jurius. Vicente was a big beneficiary of Mahoney's low post dominance, as he finished with 16 points including four three-pointers. Jurius was his usual consistent self, totaling 12 points and causing havoc on the glass, where the Lakers enjoyed a sound edge.
"Our Achilles' heel is rebounding," admitted MA coach Matt Swedberg. "We just don't have a lot of varsity experience out there and that showed for much of the game."
The Panthers, which won the first meeting 49-34 on Jan. 8 at MA, couldn't get anything going against the Lakers in the rematch. MA led 8-7 in the first quarter on an Aaron Davis free throw, but the Lakers retook the lead on a Vicente three-pointer and would not trail the rest of the way.
"We couldn't get good looks at the basket last week and that was the big difference tonight," said Rathgeber. "Part of it was also pride. We talked about how that (loss) wasn't going to happen here. We need to defend our house."
It was an offensive explosion for I-L, which averaged just 42.5 points per game through its first six contests. But after scoring 71 points in a loss to Prospect Mountain the previous outing, the Lakers followed up with a 65-point effort.
"(I-L) made some nice adjustments from last week," admitted Swedberg. "They shot the ball better this week and we didn't make the adjustments. We tried some different things out there but we couldn't get any of them to work."
MA shot just 32 percent in the first half, as Mahoney's 14 points before intermission had the hosts up 31-19 at the break.
Riley Swedberg (13 points) got the Panthers off to a good start in the third quarter with a jumper to bring the visitors within 31-21, but the Lakers responded in a hurry. Mahoney, Jurius and Vicente all scored during a 6-0 run, and the lead steadily grew throughout the period from there. Point guard Sean Mussen, who scored seven of his nine points in the second half, put the exclamation point on the frame when he banked home a 3 at the buzzer to give I-L a 50-31 lead entering the fourth.
MA struggled offensively the rest of the way, as I-L's man to man defense kept the Panthers off balance. The Lakers also swarmed rebounders, causing countless turnovers that led to easy baskets.
"We went man (to man) and we didn't do that at MA," explained Rathgeber. "We played a lot of man tonight and the guys had different assignments based on what happened at last week's game."
Coach Swedberg said his team's sloppiness with the ball continued to plague the Panthers on subsequent possessions.
"The turnovers we commit usually lead to us rushing things on our next possession," Swedberg said. "We start panicking a little bit because of what we just did and it gets everything all out of whack."
The Lakers outscored MA 15-7 in the fourth to pull away for the 65-38 win. The victory was just the second of the season for I-L, with the other coming against defending state champion Berlin (7-1) on Dec. 20.
"It's a huge win for us," said Rathgeber. "The last time we played (at home), we beat Berlin. We just want to keep taking care of business at home. We're going to need to make a run now to make the tournament and hopefully this starts something good for us."
Riley Swedberg's 13 points led the Panthers on the night, while John Fownes (eight points) and Tristan Price (six) also contributed offensively in the loss.