The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.
The562’s coverage of Lakewood Athletics is sponsored by J.P. Crawford, Class of 2013.
Heading into the second week of the Moore League boys’ basketball season, eyes were keened on the Lakewood-Wilson Monday night matchup. With both squads jockeying for the league title, Wilson pulled away with an impressive victory, 61-58, in nail-biting fashion.
The game started a little frantic, as each team tried to get their bearings, mentally and physically. Both teams came out physical, and each looked to push in transition.
Lakewood’s Macarhy Morris, Lewis and Clark commit, and Mason Pacheco couldn’t find their shots early. Despite coming off injury, Pacheco’s return elevated the team, statistically and morally, on both ends of the court.
“[Pachecho] gives us shot-making,” said Lakewood coach Duane Cooper. “He scores, and he gives us a tough defender, a big rebounding guard.”
The Lakewood defense showcased their tenacious nature, as they swarmed and doubled- team Wilson’s senior leader, Sean Oliver, constantly. As a result, Oliver would be held scoreless in the first quarter. Lakewood took the lead 17-14.
With Oliver being held scoreless, senior Keon Young and sophomore Lincoln Dean stepped up their roles to contribute. As a result of his teammates, Oliver soon started to get open looks, going 4-4 for nine points in the second quarter.
“We weren’t playing like we normally play. It all starts with me because I am like ‘the spark plug’: everything runs around me offensively,” said Oliver. “I talked to my coaches to give me a look down [low], then that got us started, and after that, everything was rolling.”
In addition to new offensive looks, Bruins head coach James Boykin switched up the defense to stifle the Lancers’ shooting.
“Lakewood is a really good team. They have five guys who can score. They have four guards that can get anywhere they want to on the court. It was a premium of really trying to keep those guys out of the paint,” said Boykin.
With this frustration, the Lancers soon found themselves in early foul trouble, yet the Bruins could not convert on free throws. Wilson took the three point lead, 31-28, heading into the half.
Coming out of the locker rooms, the teams switched identities as Wilson found itself in foul trouble, and Lancers soon found their stars rolling. After being unable to find the net in the first half, Lakewood’s Morris found the hot hand, as he drained 11 of his 19 in the third quarter. Lakewood would take a two point lead, 46-44, heading into the final quarter.
The Lancers would continue to slowly pull ahead, but Wilson’s Young and Oliver kept the Bruins in it. Each team traded possessions, players on both sides having tough finishes to the rack for “and-ones”. Then, with three minutes left in the game, momentum started swinging towards Wilson’s favor, as Oliver delivered two back-to-back lay-ups to get Wilson within one, then in the lead.
At the two minute mark, it was 60-58 Wilson. Using two time outs for possession, the Bruins failed to hold the ball, yet Lancers could not find the net. With under thirty seconds left, Wilson’s Young blocked Lakewood senior Elijah Nelson’s corner three for the lead. Crowd on their feet, Young would go to the line, making one of two, to make it a three point game.
With 11.9 seconds left on the clock, Lakewood called a timeout to draw up a play, which found Pacheco open at the top of the arc for the game-tying three, but the shot came up a little short and out, giving Wilson the ball back. The Bruins would win 61-58.
Boykin and Oliver both expressed how it was an all-out team effort to secure the win.
“We gotta figure some things out, that’s fine,” said Cooper. “You know, everyone’s giving us their best shot right now, so we gotta learn to deal with that.”
Morris led Lakewood’s scoring with 19, as Pacheco was second behind him at 11. As for Wilson, Oliver continues his prolific output, as he racked 29 points for the night, followed by Young’s 17 piece.
Both teams will play one more game before the Christmas break. Lakewood will host Compton, and Wilson will face Northwood (Irvine) at home. Both games are on Wednesday with tip-offs at 7 P.M.