Although the Lake Park boys basketball team has little size and overall experience this season, senior guard Garrett Fant sees one constant.
"We always play at a high intensity," Fant said. "This is my third year on varsity and it never changes. That's the style we love to play at and to do that, obviously, you have to be in shape."
The Lancers may still have to improve their stamina, but they couldn't have started much faster in Friday's first visit to the annual Glenbard West Holiday Classic.
They defeated Glenbard South 50-40 in White Pool play on the strength of a 12-1 first quarter.
Senior Andrew Vega had 15 points for Lake Park (5-3). Fant had 14 points with 5 assists and 4 steals, and senior Jake Hianik added 10 points with two 3-pointers.
The Raiders (4-6) rallied as close as 5 points four times, the last at 43-38 on junior Brandon Whiteside's driving layup with 1:06 left.
"We try to take our pride on defense," Lake Park coach Josh Virostko said. "We had some success on it early, but then our fatigue level let Glenbard South back into the game. It's obvious we're not a well-conditioned team right now because we can't sustain the effort. We should have been up by more than that and dictated tempo, but they've got a quality team and came back."
Glenbard South senior Peter Jeske had 12 points, Whiteside had 10 and senior center Charlie Bair had 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Lake Park unleashed early flurries of double-teaming the ball out of a man-to-man defense. The Raiders missed their first nine shots, two of them 3s, with 5 turnovers on their first 11 possessions.
"They came out and hit us with a great punch right out of the gate. That definitely set the tone," Glenbard South coach Wade Hardtke said. "It took us a while to kind of gain our confidence. We battled back in the second half. We had some chances. You've got to give them credit. Their pressure sped us up. So that had a lot to do with us not making shots either."
Late in the first quarter, the Raiders' defense switched from man-to-man to a 1-2-2 zone to counter the Lancers' inside attack.
After a two-minute-plus possession to complete the first half, Vega sank a last-second 3 for a 22-11 advantage. The Raiders returned to man-to-man after Hianik's back-to-back 3s opened a 28-13 lead early in the third quarter.
"Ever since they switched up and went zone, that slowed the game down," Fant said. "Right out of the gate we had good intensity, especially on defense leading to our offense."
Fant had 9 points in the second half. Hianik, Whiteside and Bair each had 8.
In the fourth quarter the Raiders missed converting on two possessions to get closer than 5. Lake Park pulled away in the final minute by hitting 5 of 6 free throws. Vega's late basket after a press break gave Lake Park at least 50 points in all five victories.
"As the game wore on, we did have some timely buckets. We had some guys that made nice plays," Virostko said. "Playing will help (our conditioning) but it's going to bite us one of these games. We do ask them to play really hard and they're fighting us on it a little bit but it'll work if they just buy into it."