Watching the first half of Iowa Lakes' quarterfinal regional game against Southwestern Community College may have been torturous for Laker fans and players alike on Tuesday.
The visitors from Creston milked the shot clock in working for the best shot while the hosts made poor decisions and struggled to find the range on the basket.
With the Lakers holding a 17-15 advantage at halftime, the home team regrouped and came away with a 52-36 victory.
Iowa Lakes' Colton Neff cuts under the rim for two points against Southwestern on Tuesday. See more photos at cu.esthervillenews.net.
Photo by David Swartz
The Lakers, seeded second in the 2014 Region XI Tournament, will host No. 3 seed Kirkwood at 7 p.m., Thursday in Estherville. The winner will play either top seed Des Moines Area or No. 5 seed Iowa Central on Saturday. That game will be hosted by the highest-seeded team remaining.
While Iowa Lakes had just played Southwestern three days prior, the Lakers simply didn't shoot as well in the early going on Tuesday.
Iowa Lakes coach Troy Larson took the blame for the Lakers not being ready to play.
"There's no excuses-it's my job to get them ready," he said. "We were never in 'panic' mode, but some doubt crept in."
A 3-pointer by Tate Harmon on a set play gave the Lakers a 13-8 lead with 7:10 remaining in the first half. But the Lakers went scoreless until Diamontae McKinley finally knocked down a jumper with 30 seconds left in the half.
Meanwhile the Lakers' defense and Southwestern's struggles to make shots had the game tied at 15-15 at that point. Both teams committed turnovers in that final 30 seconds at the half, and it was the Lakers' Deondre Parks hitting a jumper at the buzzer to give the home team the 17-15 lead.
"We came out with some jitters," said Parks. "We turned the ball over and that helped Creston out."
The Lakers opened the second half, scoring on their first two possessions, but Southwestern answered and the lead was just 21-19. But then the Lakers' fortunes turned, as the Spartans remained scoreless for the next 7 minutes as the Lakers went on a 15-0 run with contributions from Latrell Love, Justin Sloter, Parks, and Emmanuel Golong. The Lakers led 36-19 with 10:50 remaining.
With time running out, Southwestern had to speed up the game. That helped the Lakers as a 3-pointer by Sloter and a layup by Love gave the hosts their biggest lead at 41-21 with 8:55 left in the game.
Southwestern never got closer than 14 the rest of the game as Iowa Lakes cruised to the win.
Parks led Iowa Lakes with 15 points while Love finished with 12, Sloter had seven, McKinley had six, Jake Janssen had four, Harmon and Golong each had three and Colton Neff had two. Harmon and McKinley each had three assists. Neff had six rebounds.
Tanner Kellogg led Southwestern with 13 points.