Lake Park's defense frustrates Batavia
Lake Park coach Billy Pitcher had a simple, rhetorical question for his players early in the third quarter Friday night at Batavia.
"Who's scored all their points?" Pitcher repeated a couple times, both to his bench and the players on the court.
That player would be 6-foot-7 Batavia senior Ethan Ivan, trying to bring the Bulldogs back from an 11-point halftime deficit with two quick inside baskets.
Lake Park responded to its coach, giving a little extra help on Ivan while holding him to 4 points the rest of the game. The Lancers were locked in defensively nearly the entire night, leading wire-to-wire in a 46-33 victory that keeps them one game behind Wheaton Warrenville South in the DuKane Conference race.
Sebastian Blachut took the defensive assignment on Ivan while Vito Lagioia checked Batavia point guard Trent Tousana. Batavia shot just 36.8% (14-for-38) from the field, especially cold at 4-for-17 in the first half.
"Our defense is the top priority for us," Lagioia said. "We talk, we move around, we know our rotations, we know our matchups. Our help defense is always intact."
Offense was in short supply in the opening half. Ivan scored all six points of Batavia's first-quarter points, four on putbacks, as Lake Park grabbed a 14-6 lead.
The Lancers' balanced attack included an opening corner 3 from sophomore Tommy Rochford, Lagioia making all 3 free throws after getting fouled on a 3, a jump stop and bucket by Matt Zakic, and 4 points from sophomore Camden Cerese.
Lake Park cooled off in the second quarter but still extended its lead to 21-10 at halftime as Batavia (16-8, 5-4) made just 1 of 8 shots in the second quarter. Blachut capped the half with a 15-foot jumper at the buzzer.
Lake Park (17-4, 8-1) led 28-21 after three quarters. Batavia turned up the pressure to start the fourth. A steal by A.J. Sanders led to Tousana's layup and three-point play, getting the Bulldogs within 28-24 - the closest since it was 3-0.
The Lancers spread the court and worked the clock. Christian Denman eventually penetrated, drew help defenders, and found Rochford in the corner for a 3-pointer and 31-24 lead.
Tousana's 3 again got Batavia within 4 points midway through the fourth, and the Bulldogs had one possession to get closer. But Blachut deflected a pass to get the ball back.
The Lancers then again worked the clock until Blachut found an opening down the lane and passed out to Rochford in the exact same corner spot. His 3-pointer put the Lancers up 34-27, and Batavia didn't get closer than 7 points the rest of the way.
"We were just trying to spread things out and get a good look," Rochford said. "The corner 3 is my favorite spot. We just had to keep playing defense and walling up and keep moving the ball and take care of it."
Rochford scored a game-high 17 points despite missing nearly the entire second quarter after getting hit in the eye. Lagioia added 12 points with 5 rebounds and Blachut scored 8.
"It took a whole team effort," Pitcher said. "This is one of our best games of the year. We needed it."
Ivan and Tousana both scored 14 points for Batavia. Ivan pulled down 8 rebounds.
"Lake Park does a lot of things well," Batavia coach Jim Nazos said. "We can't have the start we had. We have good periods and then we have periods we give up possessions. We can't get buried to that team by 11. We have to be better earlier."