LAKEWOOD – With second-leading scorer Machai Harris out sick, Lakewood coach Anthony Wiederkehr needed someone to step up.
Morgan Stacey did – big time.
The 6-foot senior scored 29 points and had 7 rebounds to lead the Cougars to a 70-58 win over 2A Ferndale Monday night. Point guard Alex Jensen added 20 and showed poise in breaking the Golden Eagles full-court press. Alex Coleman contributed 10.
Stacey scored inside and outside and didn’t miss often, making 13 of 16 shots. The biggest game of his career so far did not completely surprise his coach. “Not in games this year,” but he has seen the potential in practice, Wiederkehr said. The coach added that Stacey spent a lot of the offseason in the weight room, and it’s showing in his play.
With Harris out and Coleman fouling out, Wiederkehr relied on two others off the bench at crunch time – sophomore Shae Dixon and senior Sean Phillips. They, too, came through in the clutch.
“This team has the potential to go even farther than the one last year,” the coach said after coming out on top over one of the teams to beat in the Northwest Conference this year.
The Cougars press to start the fourth quarter led to turnovers that keyed the win.
“Speeding the game up for that time allowed us to stretch the lead,” Wiederkehr said. “This was a huge night for us. Ferndale’s really good, and with Michai out for this game, Morgan stepped up huge.”
In the first quarter, Jensen scored on a drive to the hoop. Stacey grabbed an offensive board and his put-back shot at the buzzer tied it at 18-18.
The lefty Dixon scored inside and hit the foul shot to start the second period, and Stacey hit the first of four buckets that quarter to put the home team ahead. But Ferndale’s 6-foot-6 senior standout Stewart Freeman hit a 3 and sank a free throw for a rare four-point play to put the Golden Eagles in front. Stacey’s steal and layup put Lakewood back in front, but then the visitors scored seven straight for their biggest lead of the game at 36-30 after a drive by Freeman. The Cougars closed the half with Stacey and Jensen scoring to make it 36-34.
Lakewood quickly got the lead back after a drive by Stacey and a sweet assist at the baseline by Jackson Schultz bouncing the pass to Jared Taylor at the top of the key for 3. With Freeman out for a break, other Golden Eagles starting hitting shots to keep it close. But when Alex Coleman hit a deep 3 Lakewood led 50-47 at the end of the quarter.
The Cougars’ full-court pressed to start the last period and scored six straight before the visitors caught on. Wiederkehr said he saw their top two players were out, so he decided to take advantage. But once the Golden Eagles perfectly broke the press with precision passing he took it off. But the home team already was up 56-49 with 5:27 to play.
Stacey hit another shot, and Jensen connected on two free throws after a technical foul on the visitors as Lakewood added to its lead. Phillips came in after Coleman fouled out, and his quickness was too much for the Golden Eagles, who had switched from the zone it had been using all game to a man-to-man. Phillips scored after driving to the hoop, Jensen grabbed an air ball and followed up with an inside shot, and then Stacey hit the clincher with a baseline jumper to put it away. Schultz, Taylor and Dixon each scored 3 and Phillips 2.