Clear Lake 61 - North Shore 59
How to describe tonight's game? Well, the opposing North Shore Mustangs have a dang good team. If you examine their team stats for the season prior to tonight's game, several things become apparent. A very well balanced team.They shoot the ball very well from the field. They score most of their points inside. They usually score under 60 points per game. They are better than most at stealing the ball (30% better than Lake). They turn the ball over very little. They out rebound almost any team they play. They foul very little. All of their 6'3" and 6'4" players, with their long arms, seem like they are 6'7". Their depth off the bench is noteworthy. They are just a superb basketball team on both ends of the court. No individual superstars just a bunch of really good players who play composed, deliberate, and together. Their coach, David Green, is well known and widely respected in the region. He always does a great job with his team. This was a trademark North Shore team.
Most of these observations were verified tonight in the 2nd round playoff game against Clear Lake. They mostly rang true. The Mustangs fouled more than expected but other than that, they lived up to their reputation.
Now let's look at the Clear Lake Falcons' performance in this outing. Ignoring the controversy of a Riley Abercrombie three point basket that the ref called a 2, the Falcons shot a meager 2 of 14 from outside the arc (14.3%). Casey Davis made both treys. Clear Lake is an outstanding three point shooting team usually (37%).
Lake made an embarassing 61.9% (13 of 21) of their free throws thanks to Ajare Sanni hitting his last five in a row. Going into the playoffs, Lake averaged 71% free throw shooting. The leading free throw shooter on Lake's team, Ajare (83% average), missed 5 free throws. This is more than the Mustangs' entire team missed in this game. Lake also got out-rebounded noticeably.
Add all this up and you conclude there is no way Clear Lake won this game, right? WRONG! Lake won the game 61-59 on a steal by Zaid Harris and a layup by Ajare Sanni in the last 5 seconds of the game. Clear Lake trailed almost the entire game by a few points. I believe the largest deficit was 9 points at one time but most of the game it was 5 or 6 or less. Clear Lake led briefly a few times. In the third quarter Lake outscored North Shore 18-9 to lead by 5 going in to the final period. In the last four minutes of the game, it did not look good for the Falcons though. North Shore controlled the tempo of the game and scored easily on Lake most trips down the floor until late in the game.With 55 seconds remaining, the Falcons were down by 5, 59-54. At this point Shae Suiaunoa fouled out with a blocked shot that was called a foul when it was clearly all ball. (There were at least three such calls in this game). Anyway, North Shore hit neither of two free throws. Riley fires his controversial trey, nails it ( a 2 says the referee) and a free throw to boot. 59-57. An errant pass by North Shore gives Lake the ball with 39.6 seconds. A six foot jumper by Ajare tied the game. With 14 seconds remaining, time out North Shore. Time out Clear Lake. Then the steal by Zaid and the layup by Ajare to win the game. What an exciting finish to a terrific basketball game. By the way, those two game winning field goals by Ajare were his only points from the field in the fourth quarter.
Why did Clear Lake win this game? PREPARATION, DETERMINATION, DOING WHAT THEY WERE TOLD and BELIEVING IN THEMSELVES. Lake shot the ball from the field poorly throughout the game but they did not get discouraged. They confidently handled the pressure and intensity especially in the last minute being down by 5 and not having the ball. At the end, North Shore did not handle the pressure as well as Clear Lake. A couple of judgment errors by North Shore in the last minute aided Lake to make the breaks they needed. Ajare Sanni led his team with 19 points. Jeremiah Maldonado had 12 and Zaid Harris had 10. Lake is now 31-5.
Lake faces Deer Park at 7pm Tuesday night in the regional quarterfinal round at LaPorte High School. This gym is not a large gym so get there early if you want a seat.