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On the shoulders of a strong defensive effort, Lake Park carried away a 44-37 Upstate Eight River victory at East Aurora Thursday night.
Forcing the Tomcats (3-13, 1-6) to play from the perimeter, the Lancers (12-6, 3-4) limited East Aurora to 33 percent from the field (17 of 51) while allowing a mere four free throw attempts. Meanwhile, the Lancers connected on 18 of 40 from the floor including 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.
“We’ve been pretty good defensively all year, and tonight we just tried to take a lot of pride in that,” Lake Park coach Josh Virostko said. “We knew it was going to be tough to get a win here on the road. If you let them get going, they can score in bunches.”
The Tomcats longest spurt was five points, and they were unable to string together more than two baskets. DeJon Talbert sank a three-pointer and Peetie Davis followed with a runner in the lane that narrowed the gap to 32-26 at the end of the third quarter, but the Lancers kept East Aurora at arm’s length in the final frame when they canned 5 of 6 shots.
“The effort was there and the kids played extremely hard,” East Aurora coach Wendell Jeffries said. “This was the best defensive game, I think, we’ve played. We just missed a lot of shots. That’s not unusual after not playing games in a week and a half.”
Lake Park grabbed a 38-29 advantage at the 4:05 mark when Sean Moore deposited a back door feed, but the Tomcats answered with two straight buckets. Jonathan Villezcas scored from the paint and Talbert went coast to coast after a steal with 2:40 remaining on the clock.
Yet the ball refused to go in the hole for the Tomcats and they never got any closer as Carlos Cortez hit a baseline jumper and added a pair of makes from the charity stripe to ice the contest. Jeremy Caboor led a balanced Lancers offense with 10 points and he also hauled in 10 rebounds. Cortez finished with nine points and Moore added eight. Mikey Van Aswegen chipped in nine points off the bench, including a pair of triples that closed the first half giving the Lancers a 25-14 lead.
Talbert led the Tomcats with 14 points while Villezcas had six.
But where there is effort, there is improvement.
“We are getting better, but when you’re getting better you’ve got to get a couple of W’s in there,” Jeffries added.