By Pete Chiodo
March 10, 2013 7:00 a.m. SLIPPERY ROCK —
Minutes before the Lakeview boys basketball team was to take the court against Quaker Valley in the first round of the PIAA Class AA playoffs, the Sailors’ schoolmate, Sam Breese, was way over in Hershey becoming the first Lakeview wrestler in 26 years to win a state championship.
After collecting his medal, the heavyweight Breese had a message for his boys down at Slippery Rock University’s Morrow Fieldhouse.
“He said to our principal, ‘Can you please tell the guys on the basketball team good luck tonight,’” said Sailors head coach Gary Burke. “He made her promise that she would tell me so that I could tell the guys.
“If that doesn’t scream Lakeview, I don’t know what does. Everybody is in this fight together. I couldn’t be more proud to be wearing red and black, that’s for sure.”
And with that, the Sailor boys went out and won their first ever game at the inter-district level, trimming WPIAL fourth seed Quaker Valley 44-40.
“It’s beyond words,” said Lakeview’s senior center Coty Gander. “Sam won down at Hershey. This is our first state playoff win. I could not be more excited right now.”
The Sailors (22-4) now move on to Wednesday’s second round where they will face Greensburg Central Catholic, a 66-56 winner over Penn Cambria yesterday. A time and place for the game will be announced later.
“This is just a tremendous, uplifting experience for our kids. And what a night for Lakeview,” said Burke.
Breese’s win in wrestling didn’t come easy. Nor did the win on the hardwood for the boys basketball team.
The Sailors got off to a hot start, pulling out to a 15-6 lead after a 12-point scoring run that featured back-to-back 3-pointers by Zach Van Dusen and Dalton Boggs.
Then, however, Lakeview seemed to slip into a funk. Quaker Valley (20-6) scored nine straight to tie the game at 15-15 a minute and a half into the second. And in that second period, the Quakers went on to make 7 of 11 field goal attempts (63.6 percent) while Lakeview made just 4 of 13 (30.8 percent) while turning over the ball five times. QV won the period 15-8 to take a 26-23 lead into the half.
“It was kind of uncharacteristic,” said Burke. “I think we were working so hard on the defensive end that when we came down to the offensive end we needed a break and our movement wasn’t very good on that offensive end in the first half.”
The funk persisted in the early parts of the third. Quaker Valley’s Nelson Westwood dropped in a trey and then followed that up with a drive down the lane to push his team in front 31-24, its largest lead of the game.
The Sailors had seen enough. With two minutes left in the third, Boggs swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 31-27. Then QV threw a pass out of bounds, giving the ball back to Lakeview. And Casey Greggs — who was having a rough night, missing his first nine attempts from the floor — finally broke through and sent home a 3 ball from the wing to cut Quaker Valley’s lead to 31-30.
The spell was broken.
“I know Casey was frustrated at our shoot-around because he wasn’t hitting shots like he normally does at practice,” said Burke. “And we had to sit him down at one of our timeouts in the third quarter and say, ‘It doesn’t matter what happened up until this point. Live for right now. Every possession is a new possession. Go out and have confidence and knock them down.’”
The Quakers were on top 33-30 and it was Lakeview’s ball with under 10 seconds to play. Greggs again pulled up knocked down another 3-pointer, tying the game 33-33. Quaker Valley tried to inbound the ball, but Boggs snatched it away and was fouled taking a shot. He went to the line with 0.4 seconds remaining and drained both to give the Sailors a 35-33 lead going into the fourth.
“By the third, we came out and started hitting our shots from outside,” said Gander. “That brought everybody up. It got the fans back with us. Our reserves on the bench got excited and were clapping for us. That offensive excitement turned into defense. You want to get another shot. So you settle down and get a big stop and go the other way.”
Lakeview had the momentum. But Quaker Valley didn’t quit. Westwood knocked down a clutch 3-pointer to cut the Sailors’ lead to 41-40 with just over a minute left. Lakeview missed an opportunity to score on its end. And the Quakers had possession with time running down and were looking for the game-winner.
Quakers senior Burke Moser drove in for a shot with 20 seconds remaining. His attempt was turned away by the Sailors ‘D’. The rebound got loose. Westwood chased it down near halfcourt and dove to the ground to grab it, but slid out of bounds with the ball, giving it back to Lakeview.
Boggs was sent to the line with 15 seconds left. He made the first, making it a 42-40 game, but missed the second.
However, Gander stepped up huge and grabbed the carom. He was fouled in the process. He sunk both ends of the 1-and-1 from the foul line, putting the final points on the board for Lakeview.
Boggs ended up leading Lakeview with 16 points. He also had four assists and four rebounds. Gander added 10 points with seven boards. Brandon Rice added seven points. And Greggs notched six points with nine rebounds and three steals.
For Quaker Valley, Moser led the way with 14 points. Westwood added 10.