Right now, the Dragons seem to be coming together, and with the tournament season right around the corner, that could make
for a fun ride over the next few weeks.
Ethan Colbert followed up his buzzer-beating heroics in Tuesday night’s 77-74 win over Warren Howland with 17 point, 10-rebound effort as the Dragons defeated Austintown Fitch 55-46 for their second straight All American Conference Red Tier win Friday night at Lakeside High School.
The consecutive wins are the first for Lakeside since victories over University School and Jefferson to start the season. Colbert believes the team may be gelling at just the right time.
“Oh yeah, we’re coming together as a team right now,” he said. “Our schedule is one of the toughest in the area and we’ve been in close games all year. We went through some tough times the first couple of months feeling each other out, but we’re really coming together as a team right now.”
The way the team has come together was most evident down the stretch, especially with closing the game out.
Fitch (4-14, 2-5 AAC) trailed 43-35 at the end of the third quarter, but had clawed back to within 49-44 and appeared poised to make it another white knuckler for Lakeside.
The Dragons (6-13, 2-8), however, had other ideas.
After a turnover gave the Falcons the ball and a chance to make it a one-possession game halfway through the final stanza, Brandon Ford ripped down a missed shot and found Courtez Vaughn dashing to the other end to cash out the lay-up.
After another stop, Vaughn got to the foul line and split a pair of free throws to put the Dragons up 52-44. West added two more free throws and Ford picked up a steal that led to hoop as Lakeside went on a 9-1 run to ice the win.
Aside from Colbert, Ford finished with a game-best 19 points to go with six steals. Vaughn added eight points, while Marquis West also chipped in with four key defensive boards down the stretch to help seal the win.
Lakeside coach Rob Pisano said the biggest difference right now with his team is having all of the pieces clicking at the right time.
“Our last two games have been the first two games that we’ve had a full squad,” he said.
But it’s not just having healthy bodies in uniform, Pisano is also excited about the way they are playing.
“What I’m most happy about is the mental aspect of our team,” he said. “Guys are coming to the huddle and saying different things than they were a month ago, smarter decisions on the court, team defense, talking more, a lot of things are coming together and hopefully we can keep it going til the end of the season.”
The Dragons will have a week to get ready for a big test at home against state-ranked Edgewood at home next Friday. In the prior meeting on Dec.11, the undefeated won 77-54.
“I don’t want to think about how that earlier game went,” Pisano said. “I think our guys have put it out of their heads. We know these guys, we’ve played them in the summer and we’re hoping we can make it a great battle for people to come out and see.”