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Lakewood tops ATM | SLIDESHOW

LAKEWOOD — Cougar basketball hosted Archbishop Murphy on Jan. 10 with senior center Dustin Stanton in the lineup for the first time all season as he returned from a leg injury.

Stanton’s presence in the middle did the trick against the Wildcat defense and helped Lakewood hold on for a 54-45 win that boosted the Cougars’ Cascade conference standing to 3-3.

“It feels great and it’s about time,” said Stanton, who racked up 15 points and 10 rebounds. “My leg feels good. It was a good comeback game, but it was a little rusty.”

Senior guard Tyler Duitsman kicked off Lakewood’s night with a three-pointer from the left corner.

Stanton made his presence felt with a pair of free throws after being fouled as he thundered down the lane.

“I wanted to get the feeling of being hacked,” said Stanton of his efforts to get back up to game speed. “I’ll start taking jumpers soon. I’ve been hitting them from about 10 to 15 feet in practice.”

Stanton grabbed a missed three from Duitsman on the next trip down the court and put it back up and in.

Lakewood led 9-0 before Murphy took an injury timeout.

The game became a run-and-gun contest as both defenses snared drivers and pushed the ball out to the lanes for quick transition strikes.

Murphy cut the deficit to 10-7 with a three-pointer and quick transition points. They stole Lakewood’s post entry passes and countered the Cougar offense with quick drives the other way.

Lakewood led 13-9 at the end of a frenetic first quarter with Stanton making the difference in the paint against Murphy’s restrictive zone.

Post players collided in mid-air beneath Murphy’s basket as Lakewood fought for second-chances and put-backs. Duitsman hit another three when Stanton could not be found for a low post score.

“The biggest thing tonight was our chemistry,” Stanton said. “We had the full team together and we’re better when we relax and have fun.”

Junior guard Justin Peterson scored on a put-back off of an inbound play beneath the Murphy net.

Fast break offenses kicked up the intensity in Lakewood’s gym but the teams were tied at 24 to end the first half.

Cougar senior guard Tyler Farrell started the second half by hitting a three-pointer on Lakewood’s first possession and the Cougars began a full-court press. They took a timeout, however, after Murphy hit timely shots from outside to counter Lakewood’s 2-3 and led 33-29.

Lakewood freshman guard Ryan Alford hit a jumper from free throw depth to answer Murphy’s run. Duitsman and Zach Smith slowed the Wildcats’ assaults with charges below the basket. Duitsman stretched around Murphy’s three back defenders and hit a fall-away layup. Lakewood led 35-33 after three quarters.

Cougar freshman forward Paul Coleman stuck back-to-back threes to stir the crowd and force a Murphy timeout. Smith hit a sweeping shot across the key and Lakewood controlled rebounds and bodied up to prevent Wildcat layups.

Farrell hit another three to give the Cougars a 46-38 lead with over half of the fourth quarter to go.

Lakewood took care of the ball on the perimeter and went back to a full-court press to protect a 48-42 lead with 1:39 left.

The Wildcats launched threes that would not fall as time slipped away. Lakewood hit free throws to hang on to a 54-45 win.

“Tonight we weren’t afraid of the moment,” Lakewood head coach Matt Hart said. “We started making shots in the second half and it helped us get our momentum back. Dustin gives us a different look and a second dimension because we don’t have a lot of size.”

Beating Murphy is becoming a new trend for Cougar varsity boys as of late. Lakewood beat the Wildcats for the first time ever in football and at the moment owns the season edge in basketball with a set for Jan. 27 at Murphy.

“I feel like my class set the pace for that,” Stanton said. “Every year we progress against them.”

 

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