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Lake Shore boys hoops turning heads

DRIVING FORCE — Senior Wade Bergum has been one of the driving force behind Lake Shore’s getting out to a quick start in ECIC III play, which includes a few early upsets. Photo courtesy of Ron Larson.
For a boys basketball team with aspirations to make it to Buffalo State College, there’s not much better motivation than beating an opponent that gets there for the sectional semifinals on an almost yearly basis.

Defeating Depew 67 – 62 on Jan. 9 was a a step in the right direction for Lake Shore and a gratifying win for first-year head coach Brett Lyford.

“That was a big win for us, from the aspect of what the kids want,” Lyford said. “We talked about beating the better teams in order to reach our goals. Against a Larry Jones-coached team, it was nice. We realize how big it was, but we’ve got to keep it in perspective and stay within ourselves. It’s still only one game.”

It may have been just one game, but it was another big win in an unrelenting division for the Eagles, who have already knocked off Cheektowaga. Lake Shore is now 5 – 1 overall (3 – 1 in Erie County Interscholastic Conference III), but has yet to play defending sectional champion Amherst and Maryvale. The Eagles were edged by East Aurora.

“We know when we play Depew, Amherst, Cheektowaga, Maryvale and East Aurora, they’re going to be close games,” said Lyford, whose team also beat Springville-Griffith Institute 62 – 56, on Jan. 10. “We’ve got to do the little things; play our game and not let them dictate the pace.”

Colin Hart continues to become a scoring force in the division, after putting up 19 points in helping his team erase a fourth-quarter deficit against Depew and then recording 32 points the next day, in helping pull away from Springville.

Hart knocked down four 3-pointers in the win over Depew and then followed that up the next night, by getting to the free throw line regularly, where he went 12 for 12.

“He’s a great shooter and his offensive presence has been unbelievable,” Lyford said. “Against Springville, he showed if you want to take away the three, he’ll drive and get his points in the paint and at the line.”

Against Depew, Stephen McMehon’s three with about three minutes left in the game put Lake Shore up 60 – 58 and the team would not relinquish the lead again. Also in the game, sophomore A.J. Bergman finished with 19 points, including nailing 5 of 6 threes.

Lyford also pointed to the effort given by his consummate leader Wade Bergum as difference-making. The senior dove around for loose balls and caused turnovers with his pressure, especially during crunch time against Depew. He also scored 14 points.

“He really has come on strong; Wade’s a force for us. We wouldn’t be where we are without his leadership,” Lyford noted.

In the absence of junior starting small forward Phil Wigdor, who transferred to Frontier after his family recently moved out of the district, Lake Shore has gotten quite a few contributions from others, such as senior sharpshooter and defender Matt Vona and sophomore twin brothers Cory and Collin Fuitko. Cory was brought up from junior varsity to play some solid minutes in close to the basket.

Lake Shore gets that first crack at Maryvale and Amherst, in order, on the road, Jan. 14 and 17. “We’ve got to keep up what we’re doing night in and night out,” Lyford noted. “This division is tough; every night is a battle.”

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