By Pete Chiodo
The General McLane boys basketball team picked the wrong game to have an off night shooting.
Harbor Creek came to town with something to prove, still salty after Tuesday’s loss to Strong Vincent.
The Huskies proceeded to prove that the Region 6 race will be one to watch during the second half of the season as they handed McLane its first region loss of the season 42-35 Thursday night.
“It was really important for us to turn around quickly from a loss,” said Harbor Creek head coach Jason Dolak. “We talk a lot about mental toughness and resiliency. And our guys showed it (Thursday) by coming out and being ready to play.”
With the win, Harbor Creek roped McLane into a tie for second place in Region 6. The Huskies, the Lancers and East are now tied for second with league records of 3-1. Girard leads the league with a record of 2-0.
Harbor Creek improved to 9-3 overall with last night’s victory. General McLane fell to 8-4.
“I think both (Class AAA) regions are going to be tight all the way down,” said Lancers head coach Brian Schulz. “Lot of good teams. Lot of parity. There’s not a night when I check the scores and I’m not surprised by some of the results. There’s always a game. So, now we’ve just got to bounce back.”
The Lancers attempted to bounce back in the second half against Harbor Creek last night. The Huskies owned a 10-point lead at the half, 23-13, thanks to an outstanding defensive effort that had McLane settling for some risky shots from the perimeter.
“We did a really bad job on Tuesday night of guarding,” said Dolak. “We really wanted to turn that around. So that was our focus (Wednesday) at practice. And we came out and the guys were really focused. And when they’re focused, the guys are good on ‘D’ and that’s what they showed (Thursday).”
To start the second half, however, McLane made a more concerted effort to get the ball down low and that paid some dividends initially. The Lancers’ 6-foot-5 senior forward Brett Kulka registered a trio of lay-ins during the third period, helping GM trim the Huskies’ lead to 31-27 going into the fourth.
“The first half, we were looking stagnant,” said Schulz. “That had to do with foul trouble and with (Harbor Creek’s) defense. The second half we made a few adjustments, got the ball inside, had more energy.
“But down the stretch, I thought the loose balls and the rebounds all went to (Harbor Creek). That might be the difference.”
Harbor Creek stopped McLane in its tracks in the fourth quarter, scoring five points on four straight trips to the line, many of which came from fouls drawn after grabbing an offensive rebound.
And the Huskies’ defense once again stepped up, this time harassing McLane at the post. As time wound down, McLane resorted to shooting from the perimeter again. No love there, either. The Lancers finished the night 2-for-21 from downtown.
Alex Jay’s 3-pointer with 36 seconds left managed to cut Harbor Creek’s lead to 40-35. But the Huskies’ ‘D’ squelched the comeback there.
“I think its a group that has a lot of chemistry right now,” said Dolak. “They’ve played together for a long time. They know each other well. And when you get in those late-game situations, you’ve got to be able to trust your teammates, and that’s what we did.”
Malique Mitchell led the Huskies on offense with 14 points. Charlie Mazur followed with nine.
For McLane, Ryan Reagan had a team-best eight points. Clay Smith, Lukas Hallett and Kulka scored six each.