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Lakers pick up big win, then have a letdown

As the Section 8-3A playoffs loom in the horizon, the Detroit Lakes boys' basketball exchanged a big win with a big loss Tuesday and Thursday, but still control their own destiny of gaining the top seed in the North.

The Lakers (17-6) picked up a signature win Tuesday with a 62-50 win over visiting Moorhead, but dropped a letdown loss in Hawley Thursday 57-54.

"Too much confidence is sometimes a bad thing," said DL head coach Robb Flint on his team's loss to Hawley. "We just were not mentally ready to play."

On the flipside, the Lakers played one of their most-complete games of the season with their triumph over the Spuds, as they outscored the visitors by a 39-22 margin in the second half, as guard Derek Long broke out for a team-high 22 points.

Moorhead's defense concentrated on soon-to-be DL's all-time leading scorer Joe Mollberg (who needed 12 points against Grand Rapids Saturday to do so), but didn't rein in Long.

"Derek had his best game of his career, while guarding their best player in Eric Lien and held him to under his average," Flint said.

Long had four three pointers, including going 6-8 from the free throw line, while Mollberg still managed 12 points and guard Rick Hutchinson 13.

The Lakers also handled the ball well, committing just six turnovers and shooting lights out in the second half.

"We put the hammer down on them in the second half," Flint added.

That wasn't the case Thursday, as the Lakers spun out in the first half against the Nuggets (14-8) by falling down by more than 20 points.

DL put together a solid second half, coming back from 16 points down at halftime, but still falling short 57-54.

"Our guys didn't get after it defensively, they turned the ball over and settled for poor jump shots in the first half," Flint said. "I was hoping for no more letdowns this season, but we were not ready Thursday."

The Lakers committed more turnovers in the first 10 minutes Thursday -- six -- than they had all game against Moorhead, but DL did turn things around by holding the Nuggets to 22 points in the second half, while scoring 35.

Mollberg led the way for the Lakers with 24 points, while senior post Brian Labat added 12 and Long 11 points.

DL will finish out the regular season at Wadena-Deer Creek (9-13) Tuesday and host Bemidji (12-11) Friday.

Laker results

Detroit Lakes at Hawley, Thursday, Feb. 23.

Lakers 19 35 - 54

Nuggets 35 22 - 57

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) -- DL: Joe Mollberg 7-1-7-8-24; Rick Hutchinson 0-2-1-2-7; Brian Labat 5-0-2-4-12; Derek Long 1-2-3-4-11. TEAM: 13-5-13-18-54.

Haw: Ellefson 4-2-1-1-15; Johnson 4-1-6-7-17; Hinrichs 2-0-1-1-5; Pekas 2-1-0-0-7; Compton 6-0-1-2-13. TEAM: 18-4-9-11-57.

Moorhead at Detroit Lakes, Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Spuds 28 22 - 50

Lakers 23 39 - 62

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) -- DL: Kirk McLeod 3-0-0-2-6; Joe Mollberg 2-1-5-7-12; Rick Hutchinson 2-3-0-0-13; Brian Labat 2-0-4-6-8; Derek Long 2-4-6-8-22; Luke Morgan 0-0-1-2-1. TEAM: 11-8-16-25-62.

Mhd: Ellingson 2-0-0-0-4; Lien 8-0-6-6-22; Nelson 5-0-0-0-10; Bye 4-1-2-4-13; Bosche 0-0-1-2-1. TEAM: 19-1-9-12-50.

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.