Lakeridge cuts a 13-point deficit to just two points before falling short.
The Pacers were right there.
The Lakeridge boys basketball team, after rallying from a double-digit deficit in the second half against La Salle on Wednesday, Dec. 21, cut the Falcons’ lead to just two points late in the fourth quarter and seemed poised to complete its stirring comeback.
The Pacers went cold down the stretch, got outscored 7-2 in the final 2 minutes, 21 seconds of the game and dropped a 57-51 decision to La Salle in the final round of the Lakeridge Tournament at Lakeridge High School.
“After a third day playing, yeah, we just had some dead legs,” said Lakeridge junior guard Patrick Napierala, who finished with eight points on 3 of 7 shooting from the field with two 3-pointers, along with one rebound. “It’s on all of us — we’re not playing at our highest. … We came out with low energy and we finished with low energy.”
“Like (coach David Duong) said, it’s all about defense,” said Pacer junior guard Kade Gjesdal, who drew the assignment of covering La Salle senior star Nick Robertson. “If you can’t get it done on the defensive end of the floor, it translates to the offensive end.”
Lakeridge senior guard David Ghetie led all scorers with 21 points on 8 of 13 shooting from the field with five 3-pointers, along with two assists and one rebound.
With the loss, the Pacers’ second straight, Lakeridge fell to 5-4 overall in 2022-23, while La Salle won for the third time in its past four games and improved to 3-3 overall. Next up, the Pacers will host Sunset in non-league action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 3.
The Falcons were led by Robertson’s 18 points on 6 of 15 shooting from the field with two “threes” and a 4 of 4 day at the free throw line, along with five rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Senior guard Finbar O’Brien finished with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting from the field with two “threes” and a 2 of 2 day at the line, along with six rebounds, four steals and four assists. And senior guard Carson Frick added nine points on 3 of 4 shooting from the field with one 3-pointer and a 2 of 5 day at the foul line, along with one rebound, one assist and one steal.
After a fast Lakeridge start — the Pacers led 8-2 on a Ghetie “three” two minutes into the contest — La Salle took over, outscoring Lakeridge 29-14 to end the half with a 31-22 lead.
O’Brien led the way in that stretch with nine points, while Robertson and Frick added seven each and senior Jonathan Barnes another four.
The Falcons kept the heat on at the start of the third quarter and extended their lead to 39-26 when O’Brien hit a pull-up jumpshot in the key with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter.
But the Pacers, to their great credit, responded with their best extended stretch of the game. They outscored the Falcons 22-11 over a span of 9:20 in the third and fourth quarters, thanks in great part to Ghetie’s hot shooting.
The senior guard knocked down 5 of 7 shots — including four 3-pointers — and scored 14 points in a stretch of just 7:27, while junior post Daniel Bassaly came off the bench for five points in that span, including a “three” that brought the Pacers within 50-48 with 3:10 left in the game.
But Lakeridge wouldn’t score again for three minutes while the Falcons put the game away at the foul line, making 7 of 11 free throws in the final 2:21, four of those from Robertson.
“It’s good that we’re playing these teams, but league is a lot different from this just in that it’s more physical,” Napierala said. “It just shows me that we need to work harder in practice and games.”
“I think we’ve just got to stay together,” Gjesdal said. “It’s hard, but just staying together defensively (is important).”
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