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Lake Shore unable to match play that earned it early upset

SHOWING HART — Senior Colin Hart gets to the basket in Lake Shore’s loss to East Aurora. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
The Lake Shore boys basketball team expressed excitement, after what was considered an early-season upset against Cheektowaga last week, on the Eagles’ home floor.

The athletes were maybe a little too excited, according to first-year head coach Brett Lyford. That excitement seemed to carry over into the next game to Lake Shore’s detriment, as the Eagles were unable to maintain the same consistency in its performance, in falling 69 – 56 to East Aurora on Dec. 19 in Erie County Interscholastic Conference Division III action.

Lyford explained to his relatively young team, after the game, that it must maintain the play that brought it success, during a 60 – 55 win against Cheektowaga.

“We let [East Aurora] take over control of the game and we didn’t play our game,” Lyford said. “Against Cheektowaga, we stayed strong: kept our tempo up, played great defense [and] took some good shots. Today, they forced us into shots and we gave them open threes. It was a completely different game.”

East Aurora sophomore Noah Thompson took advantage of the open looks, striking for a game-high 27 points, including six 3-pointers. Inside, senior forward Grant Haffenden was able to dominate in the paint for much of the second half, after not starting the game. The 6-foot-6 man put up 14 points.

With the Blue Devils being a less experienced team, head coach Chris Koselny said his group has been trying to generate good ball pressure and put opponents in situations that make them uncomfortable.

“So far, we’re doing OK with it,” said Koselny, whose team is 2 – 1. “We’ve got three freshmen and a sophomore and they all play, so we’re really young. They’re doing a really good job growing up fast. What we have to do now is maintain the energy and enthusiasm.”

Lake Shore held a 27 – 26 lead at halftime, but East Aurora used a full-court press to its advantage, during a 25 – 10 run through the third quarter.

“East Aurora is young, but they play good up-tempo defense and they forced us to do things we didn’t want to do,” Lyford said. “Their press forced us to make mistakes. They’re active and make you work. They pushed us, today.”

Colin Hart continued his play in the early season, leading Lake Shore with 14 points. The senior, one of only two returning players that saw significant time last season, also scored a team-leading 18 points and helped hold off Cheektowaga’s comeback in the game prior. In the first game of the season, Hart hit seven threes. Lake Shore is now 2 – 1 on the season.

Lyford said the Eagles have also relied heavily on fellow senior guard Wade Bergum, a returning starter who has brought leadership and the ability to drive, shoot and control the floor. Bergum scored eight in the loss to East Aurora, after piling up 16 points, to go along with six steals against Cheektowaga. Also against East Aurora, Matt Vona added 10 points and Phil Wigdor, eight.

The first-year head coach said he has also has been happy with what he’s seen from sophomore Colin Fiutko, who leads a large contingency of newcomers on this year’s squad. He made 8 points and eight rebounds, in the win against Cheektowaga.

“We’re a mix if young and old so it’s going to take them time to gel and come together,” Lyford said. “Hopefully we can play consistently, night in and night out.”

Around the local courts

Hamburg tops West Seneca East, boys and girls teams to play in tourneys

The Hamburg boys basketball team bounced back from a loss at home to Starpoint, to win its first ECIC Division II game of the season. Hamburg won at West Seneca East, 59-37, on Dec,. 19. Brandon Pierce led Hamburg (3-1) with 13 points and 6 rebounds, while fellow senior forward Griffin Ryan added 11 points and 8 rebounds.

The Bulldogs boys will play over the holiday break Dec. 27-28 at a tournament in Maryvale, while the Hamburg girls, who are now 4-0, will be in Orchard Park the same days for a holiday tournament.
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