Coaches aren't always easy to please, but Lake Clifton's Herman Harried was a happy man after his top-ranked Lakers held on for a 67-61 victory over No. 6 Digital Harbor last night.
Harried enjoyed watching host Lake Clifton (18-0) keep its perfect season alive, but what he liked even better was the way the team did it. The Lakers showed the composure that Harried demands and wants - something he thinks all good teams need.
"They made a lot of runs, and we withstood a lot of runs," Harried said. "These guys don't play to impress; they play to win [and] what got us through is that we never lost our composure."
The Lakers had numerous chances to fall apart. They took the lead late in the third quarter, held a 12-point edge early in the fourth and looked in charge.
But Digital Harbor (14-4) twice cut the margin to two, the final time when George Jackson (26 points) made two free throws with 1:08 left to make it 60-58.
The Lakers never blinked, though. Antonio Barton - who stripped Jackson of the ball when trying for a jumper the first time the Rams cut the lead to two with about three minutes left - made one free throw to make it 61-58 with 1:04 left.
Lake Clifton's Cleveland Melvin (24 points) hit two free throws with 28 seconds left. He had missed three free throws earlier in the period.
Jason Sharp then sank four in a row around a Jackson three-pointer to give the Lakers an insurmountable six-point lead with 7.6 seconds left.
The Lakers allowed one Digital Harbor basket after the Rams first cut the margin to two and made seven of eight free throws in the final 64 seconds.