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Lake Park boys basketball coach Josh Virostko let his team know how he felt about its finishing ability during a timeout with 3:03 remaining Thursday night.
The Lancers had let a 21-point lead dwindle to 11 at the time. After a sloppy turnover following the timeout that led to two South Elgin free throws, Lake Park stepped up defensively and allowed just 1 field goal in the final 3 minutes to come away with a 60-45 Upstate Eight Conference Valley Division victory over the Storm in South Elgin.
"We have to do a much better job finishing the game," said Lake Park senior Jake Ktsanes, who had 22 points and 9 rebounds. "I thought we had a really good third quarter. We extended the lead. The fourth quarter, we thought we had the game over early on, but you have to keep fighting to the end."
South Elgin (2-7, 0-4), which lost its sixth straight game, led 6-5 after a basket from Matt McClure with 4:55 remaining in the first quarter. The Lancers' Carlos Cortez started a 15-2 run to end the first quarter with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Cortez hit 3 3-pointers — all from the right corner — and scored 11 points in the first quarter as Lake Park took a 20-8 lead.
"We were just lucky enough that we stayed in what we did early and build a lead," Virostko said. "Then we got out of what we did and let them back in the game."
Ktsanes scored 6 points in the second quarter and added 7 in the third as Lake Park increased its lead to 19, 47-28, entering the fourth quarter. The lead was 21, 50-29, after Cortez hit a pair of free throws with 5:51 remaining.
The Storm then went on a 14-2 run over the next 3 minutes, capped by a free throw from Matthew Smith after his steal at midcourt following Virostko's timeout talk, to cut the deficit to 52-43. The Lancers hit 8 of 10 free throws in the final 2:41 to seal the victory.
"We have to get to those guys that don't have the varsity experience up to varsity speed," South Elgin coach Chaz Taft said. "You saw tonight we battled back a little bit."
The Storm again played without leading scorer Darius Wells, who was wearing a walking boot on his left foot. Taft said Wells will visit the doctor again today and hopes to have a better time frame for Wells' return after the visit.
Ryan Lundy led South Elgin with 15 points. Smith added 10.
Cortez finished with 16 points for the Lancers.