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Joyce Endee

Big run keys Gilford hoop victory

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Gilford’s Jack Athanas (center) battles for a rebound with Jon Petitti and Mitch Jurius of Inter-Lakes during the Golden Eagles’ 48-40 win on Jan. 19. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 23, 2012
GILFORD – Not much went according to plan for either team on Jan. 19. But host Gilford High School did just enough to hold on for a tough win, as the Golden Eagles knocked off visiting Inter-Lakes High School, 48-40, in Division III boys' basketball action.

This one was strange from the get-go, as Inter-Lakes came out hot on a 7-0 run to open the first quarter. But Gilford (5-3 following the win) countered in a big way, as the Eagles topped I-L's run with an 18-0 spurt of their own, holding the Lakers scoreless for 12 minutes, 18 seconds over a quarter and a half span in the process. Not exactly your typical night of D-III hardwood action.

"The whole game was just kind of crazy," explained Gilford coach Chip Veazey. "It was kind of like the twilight zone. It hasn't been easy, but we're 5-3."

The quick start had I-L coach Mike Rathgeber feeling good about his team's prospects on the night, as Hayden Jurius hit back-to-back hoops and Bryan Johnson followed with a three-pointer for the 7-0 advantage with 4:20 left in the first quarter.

"We're up 7-0, we've got a great game plan, everything's working," Rathgeber began. "Then we just go dry."

And go dry they did. Gilford's David Sykie put his team on the board and Ronny Bean followed with a three to cut the I-L lead to 7-5 after one quarter. The Eagles continued their run in the second, as Bean and Connor Veazey hit from downtown to highlight what would end up being an 18-0 run, as Veazey's trey made it 18-7 Gilford with 20 seconds left before halftime. I-L's Kier Vicente drained a three with just 1.8 seconds left, putting the Lakers on the board in the second quarter for the first time, with the total scoreless drought totaling 12:18. The Eagles led 18-10 at the break.

"Our offense…I don't know, we're trying everything, every combination of people," said Rathgeber. "We just have these lapses that we can't overcome right now."

Offense was much easier to come by for both teams in the second half, as Gilford extended its lead to 29-17 on a Derrick DuBois layup with 3:10 left in the third quarter. DuBois brought some fire to the Gilford lineup, especially in the third quarter, as he scored eight of his 12 points on the night in the third.

"He gave us that spark, dove for the ball on the sidelines at one point," explained Veazey.

The Lakers stayed within striking distance however, with Sean Mussen scoring just before the buzzer to cut the deficit to 33-25 entering the fourth quarter.

"We got up 12 or so but then every time I'd look up, it's six points or so," said Veazey. "There was no consistency for us on offense. Too many errors."

I-L got within six points on three different occasions in the fourth quarter, with chances to get even closer several times. But turnovers failed the Lakers late, and Gilford hit free throws late to ice the victory.

"There was one time it went to six where I thought, one more basket would really put the pressure on them," admitted Rathgeber. "I do have balance on offense, which coaches would kill for. But in spite of that, we're not aggressive enough. Too afraid of turning the ball over and we end up doing that anyways."

Sykie finished with a double-double for Gilford, as he scored 11 points and pulled down 10 rebounds in a solid outing. Bean chipped in nine points while James Curtis had five points and eight rebounds.

"Our defense at times was pretty good," Veazey said. "We made some key defensive stops late in the game. That might've been the difference."

Vicente led the Lakers with 14 points off the bench, while Johnson (10 points) and Hayden Jurius (nine points, five rebounds) also paced the offense. Sean Mussen finished with five points and three steals while Sean Mahoney hauled in five rebounds in a solid effort off the bench.

"We knew the challenges going into this season," said Rathgeber, whose team fell to 3-6 with the loss. "I still harbor hope that we can get things going offensively though. I've seen enough offensive skills there in practice to hope they will start showing up in games."

Gilford finished off the regular season sweep of I-L, as the Eagles were 45-42 winners in Meredith on opening night back in December.

Martin Lord Osman
Salmon Press
Varney Smith
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