Lake Park's 4th quarter surge sinks Downers Grove North

Lake Park's Camden Cerese pushed the ball up the middle of the court and saw fellow junior guard Dennasio LaGioia standing wide-open on the left wing.

That's always a good thing.

Cerese passed to LaGioia, who knocked down a 3-pointer which triggered a 12-0 run in the fourth quarter and the Lancers went on to defeat Downers Grove North 53-47 on Tuesday at the Wheaton Academy Thanksgiving Tournament.

"It was a big boost," LaGioia said of his 3-pointer, the last of the four he sank. "The energy was just flowing through.

"I was heating up. I saw Cam. We just looked at each other and we were like, 'Let's go.'"

Downers North (0-1) had pulled within 31-30 on the strength of back-to-back 3-pointers from Owen Thulin and Jack Stanton when LaGioia drained his momentum-turning trey with 7:05 left in the game.

The Trojans turned it over on the next two possessions, which resulted in another 3 from Thomas Rochford and a traditional three-point play by Cerese.

"I think we pushed the ball really well, so they weren't matched up," Cerese said. "It led to open 3s."

Cerese led all players with 18 points, while LaGioia had 14 points. Adrian Notardonato added nine points and Rochford seven for the Lancers (1-0), who made seven 3s.

A trey by Notardonato on his only shot attempt of the game stretched the lead to 43-30 before Jacob Bozeman converted a three-point play for the Trojans with 3:43 to go. Downers North tried to rally but the closest the Trojans got was five points in the final minute.

"We didn't take care of the ball," Downers North coach Jim Thomas said. "We turned it over twice, gave up a couple 3s and had a couple bad looks.

"And they're a good team when they get out ahead of you. They hang on to the ball, make good, solid decisions and don't turn it over."

Stanton and Finn Kramper tallied 12 points apiece to lead the taller Trojans, who somehow lost despite outrebounding Lake Park 11-0 on the offensive glass and sinking 10 3-pointers.

"We've got to wall out," Cerese said. "We forced them out of the paint a lot. They had turnover after turnover after turnover, so we just stopped them."

The Lancers salted the game away at the free-throw line, making 10 straight foul shots down the stretch and 17 of 21 in the second half.

Lake Park coach Billy Pitcher said his team's inexperience actually was a plus.

"I thought one of our advantages in this game was they brought everybody back, so we knew their personnel and what they do," Pilcher said. "We've got a lot of new guys and we've got some different things we're doing offensively and defensively.

"We play them a second game it might be a different story, but this is a great win for us."

Cerese and his teammates say they have great confidence in LaGioia's shooting ability. So does Pitcher, though he added a caveat after LaGioia missed a couple close shots in the closing minutes.

"He's been a lights-out shooter as long as I've known him, since (he was in) seventh grade," Pitcher said. "We'll have to work on his layups, though."

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