Just stop it; Lakewood can’t

LAKEWOOD – One stop. That’s all Lakewood needed. Instead, Kaleb Bass drove in for a layup near the end of the game to give Mount Baker at 68-67 win over the Cougars boys basketball team Dec. 19.

Coach Anthony Wiederkehr said the team didn’t play well defensively the entire game, not just on that one play. Lakewood has been giving up only 45 points a game.

“They didn’t want to be there,” the coach said of his players. “There was no sense of urgency on defense.”

Wiederkehr said Lakewood isn’t used to being one of the teams to beat. So, the players have to realize it’s going to get “everybody’s best shot.”

The coach said the team has lacked focus in practice since it beat Bellingham, another league favorite, last week. Since then, the Cougars have dropped to 5-2 with losses to Squalicum and now to the Mounties.

“This is a wake-up call,” Wiederkehr said, adding he hopes the players learn a lesson from this. “It’s a lack of mental toughness.”

Lakewood jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first two minutes after 6-foot-6 senior Jon Cox scored inside and senior guard Kaleb Duitsman hit a 3-pointer. But the home team didn’t score again for 4 1/2 minutes and fell behind 12-10. Sophomore Alex Jensen ended the scoring drought, but Mount Bakers 6-foot-10 center Ethan Gates scored a three-point play to give the visitors a 15-13 first-quarter lead.

Senior Adam Duran hit a 3 and CJ McClellan hit another one as Lakewood took back the lead 19-17. After the visitors scored a couple of 3’s to go ahead 26-21 neither squad scored for about three minutes. Junior Alex Coleman ended that streak with a runner, then he scored on a drive and on an inbounds play to make it 28-28. But Mount Baker ended the half with two breakaway scores off of Lakewood’s full-court press to go in front 32-28 at the break.

The teams continued to battle back and forth in the third, with the Mounties either scoring inside with Gates or outside 3’s by a variety of shooters. Lakewood countered with a couple of 3’s by Duran and a 3 and a drive by Jensen. The Mounties went ahead 47-40 before Duran’s second 3-pointer of the period ended the quarter.

Shots that hadn’t been falling the entire game started to do so in the fourth quarter for Lakewood. Jensen got hot and hit a couple of 3’s to start the quarter cutting the lead to 50-49, but then another 3 1/2 minute scoring drought hit. After two more fastbreak buckets the Cougars fell behind 58-49.

But Duitsman and Duran each hit 3’s and when Jensen hit another 3 and home team went up 61-60 with 2:48 to play. Gates kept scoring inside, but Jensen hit two more 3’s from the outside to put Lakewood in front 67-66 with 58.5 seconds left. Cox’s tough defense caused Gates to travel, so Lakewood got the ball back, and it looked like the Cougars might receive an early Christmas present.

But after three-straight fouls, Lakewood missed a one-and-one opportunity, setting up Bass’s heroics.

In a last-chance desperation attempt, Austin Lane, who played quarterback for the football team, threw a long ball to Duran, who put up a 3-pointer that went in, but it was after the buzzer.

Duitsman led Lakewood with 25 points, followed by Jensen with 15, Duran 12, Coleman with 7, McClellan with 6 and Cox with 2.

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