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Adjustment leads to monster second half

Adjustment leads to monster second half
Adjustment leads to monster second half
Lanesville's Jack Kaufer slips inside Clarksville's Jaren Starks to put up a field goal in the first half Thursday night. Photo by Brian Smith
Brian Smith, Sports Editor

Eighteen minutes couldn’t have been more different for the Lanesville boys’ basketball team.
Before the lights flickered off for the final time in the Eagles’ Nest this season, Lanesville treated its fans to a spectacular half of basketball. Outscoring Clarksville 42-21 in the second half Thursday night, Lanesville erased a one-time 10-point deficit to land a 67-51 victory.
Lanesville coach Mikel Miller said his squad elevates its play when they do two things well: defend and rebound.
In the second half, both were on splendid display.
After a first half in which Lanesville struggled to slow the quick Dae’von Fuqua of Clarksville from getting to the rack, the Eagles figured out a way to disrupt the Generals’ offense.
Although he contributed two points on the offensive end, Lanesville’s Griffen Reynolds picked up much of the assignment on Fuqua, often playing denial defense on the guard. Others on the Eagles picked up the recognition of Fuqua, who finished with 32 points, as well.
‘We tried to change some things up with (Fuqua) because he was killing us,’ Miller said. ‘He still had 14 in the second half, but I think it was a harder 14. With us pinching in defensively, I think it hurt their overall offensive flow more than anything. We were making them force some shots, which played to our advantage.’
Down five, 30-25, to start the second half, rebounding became a key as well. Five field goals went in for the Eagles on second-chance opportunities.
‘We had to be locked in and committed to getting on the boards,’ Miller said. ‘There is five of them and five of us; go find someone in a different color jersey. Sometimes we will block out, but we won’t go get the ball. It was better today, going to get the ball.’
A pair of 3-point trips down the floor gave Lanesville the lead within the first few moments of the third quarter. Justin Bailey knocked down one from beyond the arc, while Kevin DeSpain spoiled Clarksville’s attempt to run a minute-long set with a steal-and-score. DeSpain was fouled on the conversion, sinking the freebie for a 31-30 Lanesville lead.
Soon the momentum was all the way of Lanesville. Connor Nolot got going with two scores in transition. The junior had an efficient 10-for-14 shooting night, posting 24 points. He also had eight rebounds, four assists and a pair of swipes.
‘He looked more like the Connor we saw early in the season,’ Miller said. ‘He’s played that way the last few games. He looks more naturally flowing into what he can do for us. It was a struggle to get back to where he was.’
Lanesville went up 47-34 by the end of the third quarter when Tripp Dillion scored inside.
To help put the game away, Dillion was steady in the final eight minutes. During one stretch, the 6-foot-2 forward accounted for seven straight Lanesville points, Attacking the rim, Dillion had five come via the charity stripe while his field goal was on an and-one.
‘Tripp had a good, energetic second half,’ Miller said. ‘He responded well at halftime.’
Dillion’s conversion with 2:38 to play put Lanesville up by its largest margin, 63-42. There was no problem hanging on from there.
‘Griffen did a nice job out there on (Fuqua),’ Miller said. ‘He’s a tough match up for many teams. I thought we adjusted well to things we haven’t worked on in practice leading into the game … We gave up a lot of points in our last couple of games, so it was nice to hold somebody down to what we would like.’
Coming off a career-best 30 points against Austin last Tuesday, Dillion backed up his play with a 20-point effort against Clarksville. He made all five free-throw attempts and also corralled four rebounds.
Jacob Wernert and Reynolds were key off the bench, each grabbing four rebounds. Along with DeSpain, Wernert also stood tall to take a charge against the driving Fuqua in the second half.
‘Kevin has been giving us great leadership,’ Miller said. ‘Jack (Kaufer) came in and gave us great minutes off the bench. He gives us great energy when we need it the most.’
DeSpain finished with eight points and three assists in his final home contest as an Eagle. Kaufer, also a senior, had four points.
‘We were disappointed in Tuesday night’s game (at Austin), but it’s a tough place to play,’ Miller said. ‘I didn’t think we were focused and locked in for an entire game. It was bits and pieces. Then tonight, we played well the second half both ends of the floor after giving bits and pieces in the first half.’
Attention now turns to the postseason where Lanesville drew the bye in the Class 1A Borden Sectional. The Eagles will play at 7:30 p.m. Friday against either South Central or Rock Creek Academy (those teams played Tuesday night).
‘We will go Tuesday and see who we end up playing,’ Miller said. ‘We are anticipating playing South Central. We know it will be a difficult match-up for us. We played them once (at home), and they beat us (46-41). We have to be ready to play.’
It’s been a tale of three seasons for Lanesville. The Eagles began winning seven of their first eight games then endured an eight-game losing streak. Since February, the Eagles have bounced back to go 6-2 within the month. The two losses have been to highly respectable Austin and Crawford County. Wins during the surge include a payback victory over Tecumseh and Southern Athletic Conference wins over Crothersville and New Washington.
‘Four games after our disaster of eight (losses) in a row have been a nice step forward,’ Miller said. ‘In that, we were able to clinch a conference title. It’s a good feeling for the kids. We got help from another conference team, but we will take it. We’ve pointed out that in sectional, there is no help. You have to take care of things yourself.’

Clarksville 21 9 4 17 – 51
Lanesville 14 11 22 20 – 67
Clarksville (6-16) – Dae’von Fuqua 32, Bruce Seward 5, Brent Strobl 3, Keyshawn Minor 3, Clayton Aranda 2, Dakota Capps 2, Alex Titus 2, Jaren Starks 2.
Lanesville (12-11) – Connor Nolot 24, Tripp Dillion 20, Kevin DeSpain 8, Jack Kaufer 4, Jacob Wernert 4, Justin Bailey 3, Ashton Smith 2, Griffen Reynolds 2.
3-point goals – Clarksville 1 (Strobl); Lanesville 5 (Nolot 3, Dillion, Bailey).