For Moore League boys basketball, this year has been one like no other. After so many Covid cancellations earlier this month, scheduling during these past few weeks has become extremely hectic, as every team attempts to get through their games before CIF playoffs roll around.
“We got to do it just like everybody else,” said Lakewood coach Duane Cooper, downplaying the possible fatigue that his team may be facing with the high volume of games. “It’s just something we have to deal with.”
The Lancers’ play on Thursday night reflected the words of their head coach, as Lakewood came up just short of 100 points, in their 93-57 home victory over Cabrillo.
“That wasn’t really our goal,” said Lakewood’s Mason Pacheco when asked about whether or not the Lancers were trying to chase the hundred point mark. “Our goal was to come out and just shut them down from the start.”
Lakewood asserted their offensive dominance early, with 29 first-quarter points, including 11 from Pacheco. Macnary Morris also added seven points and three assists in the first quarter, to help spark a Lancers scoring spree that never faltered.
“It’s good for us to get our guys some rest,” said Cooper, who enjoyed the fact that his team was able to get out to a 29-13 lead after the first quarter. “It was nice to have a game where we could get our other guys some minutes, so that’s the best thing about it.”
Despite the early deficit, Cabrillo managed to establish themselves offensively in the second quarter. During those eight minutes the Jaguars scored 24 points, getting 10 from Justin Bridges, who was blowing by Lancer defenders and cutting to the basket for a number of easy layups.
Cabrillo’s Deshon McMiller also helped spark the Jaguars offense, with six assists in the second quarter. McMiller finished with 11 assist total.
“He can score too,” said Cabrillo’s interim coach Derrick Speight, who praised the offensive versatility of McMiller. “Passing the ball is good for him, but he’s also our scorer. He helps control the tempo of the game, and he’s a pretty good athlete.”
After giving up 37 points in the first half the Lancers did a better job in the second, giving up just 20. Much of this was the result of better defense in the paint, especially from Lakewood’s Alex Obi, who used his size to force the Jaguars into tougher shots during the second half.
Lakewood’s defensive approach in the second half was also more aggressive than in the first, as the Lancers grabbed a number of steals early on, to help spark a 15-2 run at the beginning of the third quarter.
For the Lancers, Obi, Morris, and Pacheco all played a big role in preventing the success of Cabrillo’s defensive switches.
Obi’s effort on the offensive glass was good enough to lead his team in rebounds. Both Morris and Pacheco also had a number of second-chance points, which played a big part in the 15-2 run.
“I had to find my lanes and open spots, so I could create my own shots,” said Pacheco, who finished with 26 points and 5 assists.
The second half wasn’t without bright spots for the Jaguars either. The most interesting of these came right before the fourth quarter buzzer sounded, as Cabrillo’s Travin Thompson–who intended to dribble out the clock–saw that no Lancer was protecting the basket, and looked to his coach for approval, before driving in for an uncontested, yet nonetheless impressive, windmill dunk.
Thompson’s impressive slam capped off a solid performance; he led the Jaguars in three-pointers made in a 21-point effort.
Both teams will be back in action on Friday night as Cabrillo visits Wilson (5 p.m.) and Lakewood heads to Jordan (6:30 p.m.) for a key clash for second place in the Moore League standings.