Lakes boys basketball coach Chris Snyder believes any road win is a good win.
But the quality displayed on both ends throughout in the Eagles' 51-45 nonconference win at Cary-Grove Friday night just might make this road victory a bit more special for Snyder's group.
After dropping 5 of their first 7 games, the Eagles (3-5) shot an effective 52 percent (21 of 40) but their defensive fervor dictated matters, scoring 15 points off 17 Trojans turnovers while using an 11-2 run thanks to some of those turnovers in the final 3:57 of the first half that separated matters for good.
"It's a good character win coming on the road," Snyder said. "That's the hardest we played defensively this season, we just kind of played with a little edge there and it definitely kind of gave us a boost there in the second quarter that gave us that margin for the rest of the game."
Cary-Grove (3-4) was held to 15 for 38 from the field on 7 of 20 shooting from 3-point range. They were also outrebounded 27-19 but there was another boost.
Junior Ethan Sage, who scored 5 of his game-high 17 points in the final 1:30 of the second quarter, added a big spark when he secured an offensive rebound and faced-up for an old-fashioned 3-point play with 3.4 seconds left that concluded a late 9-point swing for a 7-point halftime lead. Cary-Grove had led by as many as 5 midway through second quarter and was 5 of 7 from 3-point range to that juncture but Lakes turned up the heat defensively after Tyler Szydlo's left corner 3 with 5:38 left put C-G up 4. It gelled thereafter as Lakes scored 34 points in the paint and out-hustled C-G for 50-50 balls.
"When we have 10 (turnovers) at the half, you're going to struggle," Trojans coach Ralph Schuetzle said. "They got all the 50-50 balls. We got our hands on a lot of balls but we couldn't get the recovery from the deflection."
"The turnovers were definitely some easy points for us," added Lakes' Mike Tomasiewicz, who scored 14 points to go with 4 rebounds. He was effective in the third scoring 6 of the Eagles' 10 points, which helped cancel out a rally from C-G junior Jason Gregoire who 3 for 5 from the field with 2 3-pointers.
Gregoire scored all 12 of C-G's third quarter points and the Trojans' leading man had 17 at the end of the quarter which prompted Snyder to challenge guard Ben Haviland to shut Gregoire down. Haviland held Gregoire scoreless in the fourth.
"They put (Haviland) on me, he was good at defense so it was hard to get some open looks," Gregoire said, as he and Szydlo combined for 33 of C-G's 45 points. "We just turned the ball over way too much. We just kind of lost our composure, including myself."
The Trojan press forced some turnovers and cut the Lakes' lead to 4 in the fourth but once Lakes broke the press, Sage scored 10 of the Eagles' 12 fourth-quarter points.
"Our game plan was to break it, be physical, because at that point they outphysicaled us," said Sage. "Coach told me and Mike to start bulking up down there and we did. We had a lot of good finishes and a lot of and-ones."