Boys Basketball: With second half turnaround, Lake Park hands Batavia first loss
By Gregg Voss
ROSELLE – Amazing what a difference one half can make.
The Lake Park boys basketball team found itself down by 12 points at halftime against undefeated Batavia Wednesday night.
The Lancers came back to win by that same amount, 63-51, dealing the Bulldogs their first loss of the young 2021-22 season.
A second half effort that even Batavia coach Jim Nazos had to compliment.
“I want to give Lake Park a lot of credit,” Nazos said. “They stuck with things when they were down. They never deviated from how they wanted to play. They stuck with it. Lake Park played really well.”
Across the court, Lancers’ senior guard Vito Lagioia was beaming, and why not? Twenty-one of his team-high 23 points came in that second half, including nailing three straight free throws with no time on the clock at the end of the third quarter, after he was fouled behind the 3-point line.
“We just honestly had to make changes to guard Ethan (Ivan) and Trend (Tousana) and we adapted to that so fast, and we just worked more as a team and started playing way better offensively and got good looks,” Lagioia said.
Batavia’s Ivan (24 points, five rebounds) and Tousana (18 points, four rebounds) proved dominant in the first half for the Bulldogs (6-1, 1-1). Combined, they hit six 3-pointers and the Bulldogs looked to be in cruise control, up 32-20 at intermission.
But then came the third quarter, and oh brother, did things change.
The Lancers put together a 10-0 run early in the period, highlighted by a 3-pointer from Lagioia from the right corner, along with another by senior guard Matt Zakic.
Following a pair of free throws by Batavia senior forward Austin Ambrose, Lake Park went on another 10-0 spurt, with Lagioia capping it with his three free throws.
“He put us on his back,” Lake Park coach Billy Pitcher said of Lagioia. “He loves to play defense, and that got his offense going, got him fired up. I’m really happy to have him to have a game like this.”
But the Bulldogs weren’t going to go quietly. They scratched and clawed their way to within 49-43 with 6:15 to go. Then Lake Park sophomore forward Tommy Rochford went to work, putting together a 5-0 run of his own, capped by a 3 from the right corner with 4:54 to go to put the Lancers up 54-43.
Batavia wouldn’t get closer than an 8-point deficit the rest of the way.
A tough night, to be sure, for Batavia, but when you’re undefeated, you get every opponent’s best game.
How hard is that?
“It’s hard because sometimes we come into games overlooking teams and they punch us from the start,” Tousana said. “We just have to wake up and realize every team is going to come after us with their best.”
“We’ll look at things and try to get better from it, and we’ve got another hard one on Saturday,” he said. “We have to go to Quincy, so we’re coming right back short term.”