LaGioia, Blachut lead Lake Park past St. Charles East

The art of offensive rebounding can be a complex one.

Sometimes, it comes with a little luck after a missed 3-point shot caroms off the rim and results in a long rebound.

Other times, it comes due to anticipation, determination, skill and want.

Lake Park's basketball team relied on a few timely offensive rebounds, along with solid defense down the stretch during its 66-52 DuKane Conference victory over host St. Charles East (2-17, 0-7) Friday night.

Senior guard/forward Sebastian Blachut led the Lancers (15-3, 7-1) with 19 points and 10 rebounds, including three baskets off offensive rebounds - two of which resulted in 3-point plays.

After the Saints closed within 50-44 following Kelton McCaslin's 10-foot jumper on the opening possession of the fourth quarter, the Lancers extended their lead to double digits at 54-44 on back-to-back putbacks from Blachut and sophomore Cam Cerese (12 points, 5 rebounds).

"We know that we're smaller than all of these teams," said Blachut. "Coach (Billy Pitcher) makes it a point of emphasis every day to get on the boards.

"If we use our athleticism, we're pretty hard to stop on the boards. One of the keys is speed. If you can get around their shoulder, it makes a huge difference. These tall guys - they're not as fast as us so getting around their shoulder helps."

Lake Park, which extended its winning streak to 4, jumped out to an 18-10 first-quarter lead, as Blachut and senior point guard Vito LaGioia (game-high 23 points) combined for 13 points.

The Lancers also outscored St. Charles East 16-10 in the final stanza, limiting the Saints to 2-of-16 field goal shooting down the stretch.

"I thought we did a great job in the first and fourth quarters," said Pitcher. "They (Saints) have some skilled guys and good size. This is the only place in the conference where we haven't won so it's a big thing for the guys tonight to get over that hump.

"They've had our number here."

Sophomore forward Tommy Rochford added 9 points and 6 rebounds for the Lancers, who remain a game behind conference-leading Wheaton Warrenville South (20-1, 8-0).

"We're vying for an opportunity to win a league title so every game matters," said Pitcher.

"We know what we're capable of," added Blachut. "Wheaton Warrenville South is a tough team in the conference but we're also tough. We're going to have to play like we did in the first half (of the conference season) - like ourselves."

Trent Warren paced the Saints with 20 points, including six 3-pointers, while Rahul Gor added 18 points and 6 rebounds.

"There were a few shots we could have worked harder to get better ones," Saints coach Patrick Woods said of his team's fourth-quarter woes.

Lake Park won the first meeting between the two teams, 63-38, on Dec. 3.

"We've improved," said Woods. "We were 10,000 times better this time than we were last time. That's the trend we're trying to stay with - to keep our heads up.

"The attitudes are great. We're working hard and we're getting better. That's all we can do."

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