The task for the shorthanded Lakes boys basketball team on defense Friday night against the visiting Antioch Sequoits was to try and slow down feisty Sequoits point guard AJ Marsiglio.
One way to slow down a feisty hard-nosed basketball players is to use another feisty and hard-nosed player to match up with him. And Lakes junior Jake Balliu was more than up to the task.
Marsiglio still managed to lead his team in scoring with 11 points, but he needed 10 shots to do it and never really got on the type of roll that could carry Antioch to the win.
Balliu stood in his way most of the night and added a game-best 12 points to lead the Eagles, who played minus TJ Edwards and Devyn Cedzidlo, in a 44-38 win over the visiting Sequoits.
Lakes (8-10, 4-2) has won three straight.
"I thought Jake did a great job on Marsiglio all night," said Lakes coach Chris Snyder. "We needed to make Marisiglio work and I thought Jake did a great job of doing that."
Defense wasn't the issue for the Eagles as they held Antioch (4-12, 0-5) to just 2 field goals combined in the second and third quarters as Lakes build a 31-18 advantage into the fourth quarter. Offensively, minus two key contributors, Balliu and senior Michal Tomasiewicz picked up the scoring slack.
Tomasiewicz scored all but 2 of his 11 points in the second half as the Eagles used a 12-3 run in the third quarter to finally start to shake the pesky Sequoits.
"We talked in every time out about putting a streak together and about getting the next stop," Snyder said. "We did enough to get the lead, but I thought defensively we played well the whole night."
One sequence in particular highlighted the solid all-around night from Balliu.
With Antioch closing the gap, Balliu picked the pocket of Marsiglio and had the right touch finding a streaking Tomasiewicz for a bucket to help the Eagles regain the momentum.
"I tried to get in (Marsiglio's) pocket and tried to go wherever he would go," Balliu said. "From there I relied on my teammates for help side support."
Antioch chipped into the Lakes advantage in the final quarter with a 9-1 spurt that trimmed a 12 point advantage down to 41-37 with 19 seconds left. A big 3 pointer by Marsiglio and a bucket from Kyle Gofron (8 points) were keys to the run.
"I thought defensively we played pretty well tonight but we are going to see more and more teams try and attack (Marsiglio) and we need other guys to step in," said Antioch coach Jim White. "We talked about it after we got back from break and we will see more of that as the season goes along."