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DL Boys Basketball: Lakers hang with No. 2 Nuggets, but fall late

Laker Ryan Cihak (22) gets his shot blocked by Hawley's Devon Pekas Thursday night. Brian Basham/Record

It was raining three-pointers for the Detroit Lakes boys' basketball team, as they pushed the Class 2A No. 2 ranked Hawley Nuggets to their limits inside Ralph Anderson Gym Thursday.

Sinking 12 shots from beyond the three-point arc, the Lakers ran with the potent Nuggets for much of the game, but by the end, Hawley scratched out an impressive 82-71 win.

The score was not indicative of how the game went, as the Lakers even led 71-69 with just over two minutes remaining in the game.

"We were able to keep them off-balance with our man-to-man defense," said DL head coach Robb Flint. "We ran some junk defense, but we needed to have better defensive rebounding."

The Nuggets (20-1) saw senior post Devon Pekas reel off five straight points late in the game, the first three off a trey to put Hawley back up 72-71.

Pekas then picked off an open-court pass and was fouled on his layup attempt, in which he converted both free throws for the 74-71 advantage with 1:43 left in regulation.

Hawley was able to salt away the game at the line, going 6-6 in the final 55.6 of the game.

But the Lakers employed an up-tempo and quick-passing offense to keep Hawley one step behind, as senior guard Kirk McLeod drained five three's to help the Lakers erase a 13-point deficit in the second half.

McLeod finished with a game-high 27 points, while sophomore guard Ryan Cihak was deadly from trey territory with four, to finish with 16 points.

"I knew after I hit a couple of my first three-pointers, I was feeling it," McLeod said. "We knew coming in Hawley was a very, very good team and we just stuck to the game plan. We had that never-die attitude to get back into the game after falling down by 13 points."

At one point in the second half, the Lakers' five three's in a four-minute span erased the 13-point deficit.

But Hawley was up to the task, sinking seven threes of their own, including two by forward Ben Ellefson late in the second half to keep the Nuggets on pace with the Lakers' hot shooting.

The combination of Hawley posts Jacob Crompton and Ellefson also converted a bevy of putbacks on offensive rebounds. Crompton finished with 15 points, while Ellefson had 20.

The Lakers shot 50 percent from the field, with the majority of those points coming from the perimeter, since Hawley had a big advantage in size.

"We did a good job attacking their 1-3-1 zone, but we didn't execute very well in the last two minutes of the game," Flint said.

Senior guard Derek Long added 13 points, including going 6-6 from the free throw line.

Even though it was a loss, it was a game which the Lakers can build off from.

"Our younger players are really coming on strong," McLeod said. "We know if we can come in and play like we did in our win over Little Falls, we can beat anyone."

The Lakers (10-12) will travel to Wadena-Deer Creek Tuesday for a Mid-State Conference game, starting at 7:15 p.m.

Laker results

Hawley at Detroit Lakes, Thursday, Feb. 21.

Nuggets 37 45 - 82

Lakers 35 36 - 71

Scoring (2-3-ftm-fta-pts) - DL: Kirk McLeod 3-5-6-11-27; Christian Hedstrom 1-0-0-0-2; Jackson Lyngaas 0-2-0-0-6; Derek Long 2-1-6-6-13; Ryan Cihak 1-4-2-2-16; Austin Eiter 0-0-1-2-1; Trey Lyngaas 3-0-0-0-6. TOTAL: 10-12-15-21-71.

Haw: Dalton Leaf 2-0-2-2-6; Jordan Harms 2-3-2-2-14; Ben Ellefson 5-2-4-4-20; Philip Teeples 2-0-0-0-4; Devon Pekas 3-2-6-6-18; Logan Stoa 2-0-0-1-4; Jacob Crompton 6-0-3-5-15. TOTAL: 22-7-17-20-82

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