Rangers explode in second half to topple Rockets

Jim Horvath, Westshore Sports Fanatic

Things weren’t looking good for the Lakewood Rangers.One of their top scorers, Pete Nelson, was sidelined with an injury. Fellow senior Aaron Donahoe was battling the flu bug, further weakening a lineup that was already without junior guard Jacob Schmidt due to a season-ending injury.

As a result, the Rangers found points hard to come by early on in their game with visiting Bay. To make matters worse, the taller Rockets were also having their way on the boards. Trailing 20-17 at halftime, Lakewood was looking for answers.

As the second half unfolded, it was obvious those answers had been found.

The Rangers cranked up their defense, took over the game on the glass and exploded for 40 points second-half points, rolling to a 57-39 win over Bay Friday night in a key West Shore Conference game.

The win broke a three-game losing streak and a two-game slide in the conference for the Rangers, who remained one game behind front-running Rocky River. The Pirates won yet another close one Friday night with a 51-48 decision over Vermilion.

“Let’s say we had an interesting halftime evaluation,” quipped Rangers head coach Phil Argento after the game.

“The kids responded in a favorable way. I’m tickled to death,” Argento said. “I congratulated every one of them and thanked them for their effort, because that’s what it was going to take. We started some different guys at the start of the third quarter. Hopefully we sent a message that if you come out and play hard, we’re going to give you an opportunity.

“We’ve had some problems giving up points in the second half. “We really did a good job and took control of the game in the third quarter,” he added.

Lakewood started to turn things around in a hurry as junior point guard Mike Angers drilled a 3-pointer to tie the game at 20-20. Donahoe started the half and split a pair of free throws to give his team the lead, then back-to-back treys from Donahoe and sophomore Nick Porter had the Rangers rolling at 27-20.

Bay, which had turned the ball over 12 times in the first half, also saw its edge on the boards evaporate. The Rangers hauled in 13 rebounds in the third quarter alone, four of them by Porter, to further limit the Rockets’ offense.

The visitors did not score a field goal in the quarter until just under two minutes remained. Chris Kazanas’ jumper helped Bay stay close, but a fast break bucket by Donahoe had Lakewood up 31-24 heading into the fourth quarter.

“In the third quarter, Lakewood came out so much more hungry. They were aggressive and got after it,” said Bay head coach Jason Frolo, whose team fell to 7-8 overall and 3-6 in the WSC.

“They have enough firepower over there that even if Nelson is out, they can still score in bunches,” Frolo said. “Plus we turned the ball over, which has been our nemisis all season. But the big thing, especially in the third quarter, was the effort.

“We’re not getting the loose balls, but they are. We’ve got balls going through our hands on rebounds, so the ball goes to them and they score. Their assertiveness, especially in the third quarter, was the main thing,” he added.

That assertiveness seemed to get turned up a notch in the fourth quarter.

The Rangers grabbed 14 more rebounds and forced seven more Rocket miscues. Meanwhile, Junior Tyshawn Goolsby scored inside, Porter hit a pair of free throws and Zach Fehrenbach scored by hitting the offensive glass to keep the offense going.

Bay, on the other hand, continued to struggle offensively. A Ryan Voiers drive for two with 5:51 left in the game broke a four-plus minute scoring drought. The Rockets hung close, but a 13-6 run to close out the game wrapped up the win for the Rangers.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well,” said Frolo, who was without the services of injured senior guard Terry Carras. “And I don’t think our big guys played extremely well. But to Lakewood’s credit, they did a good job in trying to take that away. That’s where were hurt them a lot the last time we played them.

“We really didn’t have an answer for that because we didn’t shoot the ball well,” he added.

Voiers led the Rockets with 12 points, while senior Craig Linder came off the bench to contribute seven points. Senior Griffin Thompson led the team in rebounding with seven boards, but the Rockets lost that battle as well, 34-28.

Porter, making his first varsity start, led all scorers with 19 points. Shawn McDonald had nine points, while Donahoe and Angers followed up with eight and six points, respectively. Goolsby had six rebounds, while Porter and McDonald each hauled in five.

“We needed this win,” Argento said. “Now we need someone to knock off River. They’re winning a lot of close games. Well, nobody wins all the close ones, so somebody’s going to get them like somebody got us.

“We’d like it to come down to the end of the season when we have River here, but there’s a long way to go before we get to that point. There’s a lot of basketball left ahead of us,” he added.

What about Nelson? The 6-2 senior was sporting a walking boot as he was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th career point.

“We don’t know yet,”Argento said. “He’s got an MRI scheduled. Right now, they told him he’d be out a couple of weeks.

“We’ll know more with the MRI results,” he added.

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