MATTOON — Lake Land men’s basketball coach Brandon Colvin has been waiting to see his team play a full 40 minutes of basketball against a good team.
Against Parkland College, he thought the team played well, but not for a full 40 minutes. Then Lake Land didn’t play a full 40 minutes against Henry Ford on Saturday. Those are Lake Land’s only two losses of the season.
If Lake Land was going to beat No. 24-ranked Wabash Valley on Wednesday, the Lakers had to play a full 40 minutes.
Colvin got a full 40 minutes out of his team and every minute counted, especially the final minute. Lake Land held off a late charge by the Warriors to pull off the upset, 92-91.
“The guys got the win. Forty minutes of basketball and they played 40 minutes and never let up,” Colvin said. “We make a run, they make a run and the team that makes the last run wins the game. I thought we made the last run. The guys were the ones that won the game and did a great job. It’s a good win.”
Wabash Valley jumped out to a 17-10 game, but Lake Land prevented the Warriors from running away with the game. Lake Land went on a 10-2 run to take a 20-19 lead.
Wabash Valley went back up 27-25 went on a 6-0 run gave Lake Land a 28-27 lead with 7:54 left in the first half.
The run started a trend for the Lakers for the rest of the first half. Lake Land scored 27 points from the 9:05 mark on, and Josh Robinson and Kevin Williams combined for 23 of those points. For every Wabash Valley basket, one of those two had an answer.
“Both of those guys played extremely well in the first half,” Colvin said. “Despite foul trouble, Kevin did a good job of playing smart. Josh has been doing a great job of going North-South, getting to the rim and he’s been excelling at that all season.”
But both players needed a breather at the end of the half and Wabash Valley took a 48-46 lead. Lake Land had an answer again after a bucket by Amel Kuljuhovic and a free throw by Tra Landers gave the Lakers a 49-48 lead going into halftime.
Wabash Valley tied the game with a free throw right away in the second half, but Lake Land got back-to-back buckets by Kuljuhovic and Robinson that sparked a 12-5 run. The run helped Lake Land build its biggest lead at 61-54 with 15:10 left in the game.
But Lake Land’s offense cooled down for a 3:30-minute stretch and Wabash Valley went on an 11-1 run during that time for a 65-62 lead with 11:39 left.
Wabash Valley still had a 70-65 lead when Allante' Harper tied the game up. He scored on a layup and hit the free throw for the traditional 3-point play. Then he got another basket in transition on a layup to tie the game at 70 with 8:03 remaining.
“They made their run and then went to that zone. We struggle with the zone and then went with our spread offense and found the gaps finally,” Colvin said. “When we did that, we were able to attack and make the right play.”
The two teams started to trade baskets and the game was tied at 81 when Kuljuhovic put Lake Land ahead with a dunk. Harper, who scored nine points in a 7-minute span, scored on a layup and Kuljuhovic hit a jumper to give Lake Land an 87-81 lead with 2:14 remaining.
“Allante' did a great job. Being his third game back, he did a good job of attacking and making the right play,” Colvin said. “Instead of forcing it up over somebody, he found Amel, he got to the baseline, didn’t force anything and that was key. Then they started to sag off.”
Wabash Valley cut the lead to 87-85. Lake Land got a turnover and Robinson scored on a layup. Then a rebound for Lake Land led to a transition dunk for Sean Kromah for a 91-85 lead with 44 seconds remaining.
But Wabash Valley hit a 3 and forced a turnover and turned it into a free throw. Lake Land then went 1-of-2 at the line, and the Warriors scored a quick bucket to make it 92-91 with 16 seconds left.
Lake Land turned the ball over on the in-bounds pass and Wabash Valley called a timeout. The Warriors proceeded to throw away their own in-bounds pass, but Lake Land turned it over.
The Warriors got the ball inside, but Kromah got a block with 2.6 seconds left. The Warriors got off a desperation jumper at the buzzer, but it was no good and Lake Land pulled off the upset with a 92-91 win.
“(The block) was huge. That was the longest 2 seconds of my life,” Colvin said. “The guys got back on that one. They sprinted back and got the block and that’s a testament to their heart. Happy to get the win and now we have two days to prepare for Kaskaskia.”