MATTOON--LAKER FIELD HOUSE--With first place in the Great Rivers Athletic Conference at stake, a perfect GRAC record to protect, and a six game winning streak on the line, the Lakers of Lake Land College pulled out a three point victory over the Blue Devils of Kaskaskia College Saturday night.
LLC's head men's basketball coach, Cedric Brown, knows all too well that any GRAC team can upend any other GRAC team on any given night, and with that knowledge, he and assistant coaches Dave Earp and Brendan Walker prepared their charges of a game against a KC team struggling to stay out of the GRAC basement.
An free archive of this game's livestream is availabe for viewing here.
Yet the Blue Devils played the Lakers for all they were worth at Laker Field House, not the easiest venue for visiting teams to play, with its bigtime atmosphere and tendency to all but fill the house, game after game.
Between KC's Brandon Johnson (20 points) and Kevin Swanson (17 points), the Blue Devils made one heck of a run. Sixteen of Johnson's points came in the second half, when he scored nearly half of KC's 37 points of the last half.
Three Lakers reached double-figures. Leading all scorers was Logan Carson, who hit the court fast and hot, tossing in four three-pointers and going three-for-four from the charity stripe in the first half. Carson's teammates immediately saw Carson had the hot hand, and found every conceivable way to free him up and feed him. Carson went "Pistol Pete," retreating from the defense and firing away, until at one point, he was a good six or seven feet beyond the arc (about 27 feet).
But Carson, like most humans, cooled at the half. When the Lakers found themselves battling KC's Johnson, LLC's DeMario McMillian and Harold McBride stepped up their respective offenses, creating a "McHalf" that found them combining for 20 points.
McBride tallied all 14 of his points in the second half. (McBride's double-digit scoring streak is now at five games.) McMillian popped for three field goals in the second half out his 10 all night.
With Aziz Thiandoum yet sidelined, recovering from surgery relative to an injury, McMillian, Giovanni Ellis, and Kewan Davis had their hands full on the boards against the likes of KC's Devon Rowan, P.J. Brown, Jacob Kampwerth, and Kevin Swanson.
While all the aforementioned board-battlers can be commended for their night-long grudge match to rule the paint defensively, it was the Lakers' Javon Price who came on late with some clutch three's.
Price knocked down three from beyond the arc for nine points that seemed to have tremendous impact on game momentum.
Under the guidance of KC's head coach, Brian Hancock, the Blue Devils made a late game run, but fell three points short at the buzzer.
LLC improves to 5-0 in the GRAC, extending a winning streak--that surprisingly is hardly mentioned with the GRAC lead and a perfect conference record on the line--to 13 games.
The Lakers play the Blue Knights of Olney Central College Monday night in Olney, followed two days later by another road game in Mt. Carmel versus the Warriors of Wabash Valley College.