Knights spoil Lakers’ home debut

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

DENYING AN INSIDE PASS — Lake Region forward Erik Christensen tries to keep a Poland player from passing the ball inside the lane to Knights’ leading scorer Jacob Littlefield (#20) during Friday’s season opener at Nutting Gymnasium. The Lakers made a couple of strong runs, but were unable to catch the Knights. (Rivet Photo)

Ricky Bryant is a “slippery” player who may go unnoticed, but can be a game changer.

A six-foot guard/forward, Bryant collected several big offensive rebounds and scored seven key second-half points to lead Poland to a 67-48 boys’ basketball victory over Lake Region Friday night in the season opener.

Bryant finished with 12 points and a team-high seven rebounds.

“They (Poland) have three players — Jacob Littlefield, Andrew Petersen and Ricky Bryant — that are challenging to keep off the backboards. We did okay with Andrew and Jacob, but we couldn’t seem to get a body on Ricky, especially in the second half,” LR Coach J.P. Yorkey said. “He’s a slippery player, but we need to be more responsible in blocking him out, there is no question. He was the one who hurt us when we played them this summer at team camp. I thought that was the turning point in the game.”

Opening Night proved quite entertaining through three quarters. Drew Peterson and Littlefield drained 3-point shots to give Poland an early 15-5 lead. But, the Lakers chipped away at the deficit behind some smooth shooting by Mike Triglione, who scored 8 points in the quarter (two treys) and aggressive inside play from Alex Hartford (15 points, 15 rebounds), Cody Gibbons and Lewis Morton.

Down 20-16, the Lakers pulled within a point with two minutes gone in the second quarter as Triglione (16 points) knocked down his third 3-pointer.

But, Bryant scored off an offensive rebound and Littlefield swished a 3-pointer as the Knights’ withstood the Laker charge, leading by seven midway through the quarter.

Good ball movement created an open look for Triglione with 58.2 seconds, and the junior guard connected on another trey to close the gap to 37-32. Again, Bryant put the brakes on a LR rally with an inside bucket with 35.9 seconds and the Knights added two foul shots with 7.9 seconds left to enjoy a 41-32 lead at intermission.

Turnovers (eight) in the third quarter impeded the Lakers’ comeback attempt as Poland built a 10-point cushion on two Littlefield jumpers and stretched the margin to 13 at the end of the third as Peterson scored two hoops.

Poland closed out the game with an 11-5 fourth quarter run (Littlefield had 5 points, including a trey) as the Lakers managed just one field goal — a 3-pointer by Hartford — while going 2-of-4 from the foul line.

“The kids played hard, and did their best to follow our game plan. I was proud of them,” Coach Yorkey said. “Poland made shots (80% in the first quarter, six threes in first half). They were reasonably contested shots, and very few lay-ups. Making them play defense was part of our game plan. We were successful in that we got Littlefield and Petersen in foul trouble. Had Poland not shot so well in the first half, and had we been able to keep Ricky (Bryant) off the offensive glass, I think we would have won that game, or at least had a chance to win at the end.”

With a young roster, Coach Yorkey expects this team to be a work in progress.

“We are learning to become more patient on offense, and to be able to possess the ball for longer periods of time when we choose to,” he said. “This is an important thing with young players.”

The Lakers held a 27-22 advantage on the glass, but were just 6-of-15 from the foul line. The Knights were 7-of-13 from the charity stripe. LR had 18 turnovers to Poland’s 8.

Poland: Jacob Littlfield 19 points, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks; Ricky Bryant 12 points, 7 rebounds; Logan Nichols 12 points; CJ Martin 9 points; Drew Peterson 7 points, 4 rebounds; Nate Rybeck 4 points, Nick Allen 2 and Jed Quint 2 points.

Lake Region: Alex Hartford 15 points, 15 rebounds, 2 blocked shots; Mike Triglione 16 points; Erik Christensen 8 points, 3 rebounds; Cody Gibbons 5 points; Lewis Morton 2 points; Sam Smith 2 points, 5 rebounds.

Up next: The Lakers host Waynflete tonight, Dec. 15, at 6:30 p.m., and Freeport on Saturday, Dec. 17 at 5:30 p.m. The Lakers then travel to Gray-New Gloucester on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. contest.

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