Shortly after the No. 2 Lake Clifton boys basketball team completed a resounding 61-34 statement win at No. 3 City last night, Lakers coach Herman Harried was asked whether he could have asked for anything more from his team.
He considered the question and said that he couldn't, adding with a smile, "All I can do is ask for more of it."
Lake Clifton got 17 points from forward Will Barton, 15 from forward Cleveland Melvin and a collective shut-down performance on defense to come away with the surprisingly comfortable win. The Lakers improved to 4-0 this season, while City fell to 3-2. City coach Mike Daniel missed the game because of an illness.
Defense was vital for the Lakers, and it started with a pivotal second quarter in which the host Knights went 1-for-14 from the field - Adam Johnson's three-pointer with 35 seconds until the half being the team's only points - and 0-for-2 from the foul line. The visitors built a 24-13 halftime lead that they extended to 40-21 after three quarters.
"Defense is the key. Our focus was to come in, tighten up on defense and force them into doing things they normally don't do," Harried said. "We played smart defense - no reaching, no hand-checking - and we kept them out of the lane and forced them into shots that they normally wouldn't be taking."
Melvin scored seven of his points in the second quarter to help the Lakers get separation once they led 11-10 after the first. Barton picked things up in the third quarter, converting a three-point play to give the Lakers a 31-15 lead with 4:59 left and adding two more baskets to help pull away.
Just how bad did things get for City, which hit just 13 of 55 field-goal tries, a 23 percent clip?
Johnson, who had a team-high 15 points, followed a miss with an emphatic dunk midway through the third quarter but was issued a technical for hanging on the rim. Lake Clifton guard Jason Sharp hit both free throws, and Barton followed with the three-point play shortly afterward.
Antonio Barton added 12 points, and Jaquan Jones scored 10.