The No. 7 Boys’ Latin basketball team came out sluggish and cold in the first half against visiting Loyola Blakefield on Monday night, and the message at halftime was to come out more aggressive and efficient. Cameron Spencer did that and more. He took over.
The senior point guard scored 15 of his game-high 30 points in the third quarter to help turn a two-point halftime lead into a comfortable 70-50 win over the Dons in Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference play.
The Lakers, who also got 15 points from Cameron Watts and 12 from Sam Grace, improved to 18-3 overall and 5-0 in the MIAA. Loyola Blakefield went to 11-8 and 5-4.
After scoring just three points in a first half during which the home team mustered only 23, Spencer stepped up when needed the most, as he has all season.
“In the first half, coach [Cliff Rees] was kind of mad at us because we really weren’t attacking the basket. … We were running our offense way too far from the basket, which was playing right into their hand. So in the second half, I really just wanted to try to come out and at least get a shot up and attack the basket as much as I could,” Spencer said.
The Lakers came out in the third quarter looking like a different team than the one that played in the first half, scoring on their first eight possessions while holding the Dons to two points. Spencer pulled up for two baseline jumpers, converted a steal into a layup and then hit a 3-pointer. After he found Watts for a 3-pointer, he was fouled on the team’s next two possessions and converted four free throws. When Watts hit another 3-pointer — off another pass from Spencer — the Lakers had a 41-23 lead with under three minutes to play in the pivotal quarter.
“That’s what we expect of Cam. I’m selfish that way. I know he’s capable and he’s just such a competitor. It’s in his nature,” Rees said. “I knew in the first half he struggled shooting the ball, we all did and we didn’t have a lot of movement. We talked about it at halftime, but that’s the great thing about this group — I don’t have to overcoach them. I got my seniors leaders — Cam, Cameron Watts and Sam Grace — they’re not going to back down, they’re not going to stop fighting.”
The Dons, who got a team-high 15 points from Brendan Fox, kept fighting, cutting the Lakers’ lead to 53-43 midway through the fourth quarter before the Lakers again got significant separation with five 3-pointers — Kendall Walker ending the visitors’ run with one at the 3:55 mark and Grace adding two more.
“We have a pretty good chemistry together — we have a lot of guys that have played together in the past and we try to use that to our advantage,” Spencer said. “We try to play to our strengths, which is shooting the ball, and I think we did a good job of that in the second half. Driving and kicking it out to find the open man, and luckily we hit some shots in the second half.”
LB—Smith 2, Fischer 12, Nnake 1, Young 8, Fox 15, Moore 5, Reynolds 3, Hepting 2, Gioioso 2. Totals: 18 8-22 50.
BL—Spencer 30, Grace 12, Watts 15, Walker 3, Nichols 6, Spells 4. Totals: 24 8-9 70. Half: BL, 23-21