MATTOON — Josh Jefferson, sophomore guard for the Lake Land men’s basketball team and the leading scorer for the Lakers, scored 32 points Monday night and joined the 1,000-point club in his team’s 98-89 victory over Indiana Elite Prep Academy.
Just under two minutes into the second half, Jefferson made a three-pointer, his 20 point of the night, which marked the point at which he made his 1,000 point.
Coming into the game, Jefferson said he knew he was approaching the mark.
“Just from teammates talking about it and coaches, but it wasn’t really my main focus because we’d been on this losing streak, so I just wanted to contribute what I could and I just happened to get it,” Jefferson said.
Lake Land’s starters came out slow, not making any shots and falling into an early 8-0 hole.
Two and a half minutes into the game, head coach Brandon Colvin replaced all five starters and the five Lake Land players who came in started the scoring for the team.
“We just didn’t come out with any kind of emotion, any kind of urgency,” Colvin said. “It’s kinda been the same thing we’ve had the last couple of games. The mistake I made the last couple games, I didn’t go to the bench quick enough.”
The bench scored the first six points for Lake Land before Jefferson came back in and started scoring.
Jefferson had an immediate impact and helped get Lake Land back into the game in the middle of the first half, scoring 14 points on 6-10 shooting in the half.
His first basket came at the 12-minute mark, getting a layup off a steal to cut the deficit to 13-8.
Despite the consistent scoring, Lake Land never actually had the lead until there was 13 seconds left in the first half when Jefferson, who is averaging 22.5 points per game, made a three-pointer to give Lake Land a 37-34 lead, which was cut to a one-point lead going into the half.
Twenty-five seconds before Jefferson’s basket, sophomore Josh Robinson, who is averaging 12.8 points per game, drove to the basket, missed the shot, and got his own rebound and got fouled on the put-back, making one of the two free throws to tie Lake Land and Indiana Elite’s score at 34 all. This was the first time in the game the two teams’ scores were tied.
Robinson had a great night scoring, finishing with 18 points on 6-11 shooting and 6-9 free throws.
Lake Land really took off in the second half.
With 11:05 left in the game, the Lakers took their largest lead of the game up to that point, 68-55, after freshman Allante Harper scored on a drive to the basket.
“We started pushing the ball,” Colvin said of his team’s offensive display in the second half. “Once we started pushing the ball past the zone, past the press we got passes and got easy scores.”
After that point, the closest the game got was when Indiana Elite’s Tamir Green and Ernesto Juarez led a 14-2 run over a nearly three-minute period, to cut their team’s deficit to 70-69.
Green was the second-highest scorer in Monday’s contest with 28 points on 11-23 shooting.
The biggest lead Lake Land held was a 16-point lead with 2:26 left, 93-77, before Indiana Elite cut it down before the end of the game.
Jefferson said it felt good to hit the 1,000-point mark in the game. “Working hard, being slept on this whole time and then achieving the goal, it felt good so I was just happy.”
Colvin said the biggest thing for Jefferson was that last year, he was more of a spot-up shooter, but this year, he has started driving to the basket more.
Lake Land had lost six of its last seven games before Monday, but with the win, it improved to 15-9 on the year, and Indiana Elite fell to 16-9.
The Lakers’ next game is Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. against Lincoln Trail College, after the women’s team plays the first game of the doubleheader at 5:30.