STONEBORO — On Tuesday, Lakeview head coach Gary Burke picked up the 247th win of his career — the 10th most in Mercer County history — when the Sailors beat North East 57-32.
Burke’s accomplishment was recognized before Lakeview’s Region 2 season opener against Sharpsville on Thursday, and thanks to his team’s gritty performance — especially the showing of Gavin Boggs — the Sailors (4-2, 1-0 Region 2) moved their mentor one step closer to No. 9 with a 60-52 victory over the Blue Devils (3-1, 0-1 Region 2).
“They have players out there,” said Burke of Sharpsville. “They have some big kids you have to stop. JaQuay (Hubbard) is a big solid basketball player ... he is an athlete. We don’t have a lot of big kids, so we have to play good team defense. And our kids were prepared to come out and play four quarters, and we needed it.”
The first 29 minutes were about as back and forth as things could go.
In that span there were 16 lead changes and five ties. Among them were some clutch shots late in periods. At the end of the first half, Sharpsville took a 29-27 lead when Hubbard sank a layup with 5 seconds left on the clock. No problem for the Sailors, as Boggs took the inbound pass, advanced it quickly to about 23 feet on the left wing and drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give his team a 30-29 halftime lead.
“Going into halftime, coach was not real pleased with us,” said Boggs. “So we had to turn it on in the second half. But we are 1-0 in the region, and that is all that matters right now. We are going into Christmas break confident and excited.”
The third period was much the same. This time Max Messett gave the Devils a 43-40 lead with a short jumper and just 1:09 left on the clock. Again, Lakeview responded. Zach Doddo hit a pair of free throws with 52 second left to pull the Sailors within 43-42. And with seven seconds left on the clock, Gaven Aden made a bucket to give his team a 44-43 advantage after 24 minutes of play.
“(Sharpsville) beat us last year,” said Boggs. “So we really wanted to win this won. Our two losses (against Kennedy Catholic and General McLane) made us better for this game (Tuesday). A back-to-back state champ and a Class 4A school. We were battle tested by them.”
Sharpsville then grabbed a 52-48 lead with three minutes to play in the game.
But Burke and company did not panic. The Sailors simply looked to their leader, and Boggs did not disappoint. The senior scored seven of the final nine points — including a perfect 6-for-6 from the foul line — to put the game away. It was almost a mirror image of the first period when Boggs scored eight of his team’s 15 first-period points.
“Boggs is really tough from that free throw line,” said Burke. “He was our best free throw shooter last year. Gavin has been a good player for us since second grade. And once we smelled blood, I think the kids did a great job of attacking and moving the ball.”
Boggs finished with a game-high 21 points to lead the Sailors. Aden scored 12 markers and Zack Urey added 10 in the win.
Hubbard and Rick Ladjevich each scored 14 points for the Blue Devils, who kept the Sailors on the ropes for all but three minutes.
“That was on me right there,” said Sharpsville head coach Jim Smiley. “My guys played so hard for, i would say, three quarters and seven minutes of that (game). And at the last minute, I did not have the prepared for an end of the game situation like that. That is on me. I was trying to get the clock down a little bit and then (Lakeview) got a backdoor cut. I was not expecting that.
“So, I have to put them in a better position to win right there.”
Matthew Digiacomo can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.