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Hot start not enough to lift Lakeview Academy boys basketball team over top-ranked St. Francis
Lions guard Blake McIntyre scored 20 points and had five assists in the loss
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Lakeview's Arturo Varela goes for a lay up while St. Francis' Jusaun Holt, left, and Sam Salama attempt to block his shot at Lakeview Academy on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. - photo by Austin Steele

The Lakeview Academy boys basketball team kept things close early against last year’s Class A-Private state runner up St. Francis. But a hot start was not enough for the Lions to keep up with the Knights late, eventually falling 76-58 at home Tuesday evening. 

“There was some good and some not so good,” Lakeview Academy coach Todd Cottrell said. “Wish there had been a little bit more good. In the first half, we had some moments. Then we got a little tired and didn’t compete like we needed to.” 

The Lions (2-2) were led by point guard Blake McIntyre, who scored 20 points and dished out five assists in the loss. But McIntyre’s effort was not enough to get the team past the visiting Knights.

“I thought we competed hard, but we came up a little short,” he said. “I think we need to work on our toughness. If we get a little more tough, we can hang with guys like that.” 

Early on, it appeared Lakeview Academy would have a chance.

After the teams exchanged a couple of baskets to start the game, McIntyre connected on a bounce pass to Arturo Varela in transition that netted Varela an easy bucket and put the Lions on top 7-6. A steal and fast break score from Holden Cooper on the next St. Francis possession extended the lead and incited cheers from the home crowd. 

As the quarter wound down, Lakeview Academy picked up 3-pointers on three consecutive tries, with each of Adam Cottrell, McIntyre and Roman Yaskulka getting in on the action. 

“We’re a good shooting team,” Todd Cottrell said. “Our guards, especially, can really shoot it.”

The Lions came out of the first quarter leading 23-18, but the game shifted back into St. Francis’ favor. 

After McIntyre started the second frame with another 3-pointer, the Knights put together a 13-2 run behind a flurry of makes from guards Dwon Odom and CJ Riley. The quick turnaround forced Cottrell to take a timeout. 

“We had a harder time keeping them in front of us, and they broke our defense down a little bit,” he said. “We didn’t play some screens very well, and that kind of let them get a couple easy baskets.”

After the quick rest, the Lions righted the ship somewhat defensively, but scoring continued to be hard to come by. St. Francis ended the half with a pair of put-back makes from Chase Ellis following rebounds on the offensive glass and an emphatic dunk from Odom at the buzzer that gave the Knights a 39-34 advantage going into the halftime break. 

Things didn’t get easier for the Lions with the start of the third quarter. 

Ellis picked up right where he left off, scoring a pair of layups to start the half, and Riley began to get hot from behind the arc, hitting a couple of 3-pointers to extend the St. Francis lead. 

Meanwhile, the Lakeview Academy shots that had been falling earlier in the game stopped going down. 

“We’ve got to work on our toughness,” McIntyre said. “If a shot doesn’t fall, it’s just got to be our mindset that we’ve just got to keep shooting, keep going.”

McIntyre kept the Lions afloat, hitting a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws near the end of the third quarter and scored seven in the fourth period. 

A late Odom steal finished off with a windmill dunk put the exclamation mark on the visiting Knights’ win. 

“We’re going to have to be a little bit better defensively,” Cottrell said. “We’re going to have to have some newer guys step up and provide some depth for us. … I’m excited about this group. I think they’re pretty good. I think they’ve got a pretty good future, but we’ve just got to get better.”

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