Anyone looking for tangible evidence of Lake Park's maturation need only look at the fourth quarter of Saturday's game against Glenbard East.
Executing in every phase down the stretch, the Lancers held on for an impressive 64-57 victory over Glenbard East in the opening boys game of the Downers North Winter Classic.
Lake Park (13-6) entered the final eight minutes nursing a 44-43 advantage but, after five lead changes in the first four minutes of the quarter, the Lancers used an 8-2 run over the next three minutes to pull away.
With two juniors and a sophomore contributing greatly, five players combined for 16-of-19 free-throw shooting in the fourth quarter. The Lancers shot an amazing 19 of 30 from the field in the game as all eight players who saw time on the court scored.
"Our defense starts our offense and that's how we get easy looks," said Lake Park senior Jake Ktsanes, who led all scorers with 18 points. "We did a lot of drills in practice where we had to get back on defense, find the ball, find shooters and close out on them. This is definitely one of our best games of the season."
Glenbard East (10-5) never could get its full-court game going, at least not enough to spark the kind of run that'd put the Rams in control. Their biggest run was an 8-0 second-quarter spurt that helped give them a 31-27 halftime advantage.
Nothing, however, fazed Lake Park despite 17 lead changes and 10 ties.
"It's a young team, and earlier we were up and down," said Lancers coach Josh Virostko, whose team notched its sixth straight win. "We've still got some moments when we're inconsistent, but the difference is that they're starting to learn how to win. Hitting free throws late in the fourth quarter, that's learning how to win."
Glenbard East, which took its biggest lead of 6 points in the second quarter, fell off tremendously with its shooting in the second half. With Marvin Grant-Clark struggling through foul trouble, the Rams made only 9 of 32 second-half attempts from the field.
Tahron Harvey led Glenbard East with 15 points while Mike Kjeldsen and Grant-Clark -- who both fouled out -- added 13 points. Carlos Cortez scored 14 points and Sean Moore tallied 11 for Lake Park.
"It starts and ends at the defensive end of the floor and when we don't play well, our defense is not there," said Glenbard East coach Scott Miller. "We tried to fight and claw back, but it's got to become more important at the defensive end of the floor for us to get better."
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