Impressive runs on the football field were a regular occurrence the last two seasons by Lakes senior Direll Clark.
The two-time Daily Herald All-Area running back and Division I recruit showed he can perform similar feats on the basketball court in Wednesday night's second round game against the hosts of the Jacobs Boys Holiday Basketball Classic. The 5-foot-11 Clark ran off Lakes' final 14 points of the first quarter and wound up matching his career high of 26 in a 68-48 victory in Algonquin.
Clark scored off 2 of his 3 first-quarter steals as Lakes (11-3) used its full-court pressure defense to improve to 2-0 in pool play in its first appearance in the tourney. It would advance to Friday's semifinals with a win at 4:30 p.m. today over Marian Central.
"We were just ready to play after three days off," said Clark, who rushed for more than 3,000 yards the last two seasons. "We were ready to get back on the floor. People get rattled every time we get in their face."
Clark hit a pair of 3-pointers and Troy Swindle (17 points) went 4-for-5 behind the arc as Lakes finished 9-for-17. Clark shot 10-for-17 from the field, had 6 rebounds of his team's 37-23 advantage, 4 steals and 4 assists.
"That guy's tough, isn't he," marveled Jacobs coach Jim Hinkle after his team's three-game winning streak was snapped.
"He carried us," said Lakes coach Chris Snyder after his team won for the ninth time in 10 games. "He's one of those guys who has that ability and he definitely had the hot hand. The guys did a good job of getting him the ball."
Particularly after Jacobs (4-6) cut a 14-point lead to 30-24 on a jump hook by Blake Micel (12 points on 6-for-7 shooting) with 44 seconds left in the half. Clark hit a 3 from the corner 14 seconds later.
"With their physical play and aggressiveness," Hinkle said after his team fell to 1-1 in pool play, "they set the tone of the game and had it going their way and we weren't able to change it."
Two turnovers to start the second half helped Lakes open a 37-24 lead. Jacobs senior Will Schwerdtmann (21 points on 7-for-19 shooting) scored his team's next 14 points and hit three of his four 3s in a span of 1:13 to cut the deficit to 47-38.
But Swindle answered with a 3 and Lakes led by double figures the rest of the way.
"We weren't ready to play today," Schwerdtmann said. "We knew they were going to be physical but we didn't know they were going to full-court us and that kind of caught us off guard."
Swindle scored 14 of his points in the second half. Justin Bergeron had 8 points and 7 rebounds, Jake Kohler had 7 points and T.J. Edwards had 7 rebounds for Lakes.
"The good thing about this team is we have different guys who can step up," Snyder said.
"We have a lot of people who can score off the bench and we have shooters," Clark said. "We have it all."