MATTOON — The Lake Land men’s basketball team is developing a trend currently, and it’s not a good one.
Over the past few games, with the exception of the one against Vincennes, Lake Land will build a double-digit lead, but then will get away from what’s working and the lead will slip away. That kind of play cost the Lakers a win at Olney last week.
On Wednesday, it cost Lake Land another key district game. Up by 14 points early in the second half, the lead quickly slipped away against Lewis & Clark.
Lake Land lost the lead for good with 7:35 left and Lewis & Clark, which had three District 16 wins coming into the game, picked up a 99-93 win at Laker Field House.
Lake Land (14-6, 7-4 District 16) gave up 62 points in the second half.
“When you can’t keep guys out of the middle, guys get to the middle whenever they want and get to the lane whenever they want, that’s what’s going to happen,” Lake Land coach Brandon Colvin said. “It goes back again, we had a bad day of practice yesterday and it carries over. They went through the motions and it carried over here. It’s the same story as the last three games. We get up double digits, and we get away from what works.”
The loss puts Lake Land in a dangerous position, as they sit around the No. 5 spot in the District, meaning if the Lakers don’t figure it out soon, they could lose out on a home District game and might have to play in a first-round game.
“That’s something that we have to figure out as a team, and I told them, I am done yelling, I am done screaming, it’s something we have to figure out,” Colvin said. “If we do, this team has a lot of potential and have a chance to be very good in this District and make a splash this year.”
Lake Land shot 65.5 percent in the second half and scored 49 points, but the Lakers also turned the ball over 14 times.
“Probably 10 of those were either travels or guys throwing cross-court passes that had no chance to get through,” Colvin said. “Once again, it’s us trying to force things that aren’t there.”
Josh Jefferson had 22 points for Lake Land, and Kevin Williams and Amel Kuljuhovic each had 19 points.
For Lewis & Clark (10-9, 4-8), Dionte Raines had 36 points and he hit six 3-pointers. He hit 4 in the second half and had 27 points after halftime.
“He’s a very good player, one of the best in the District, but it comes back to us,” Colvin said. “We don’t talk on screens, so we don’t help out, we don’t get through. We don’t try to bust through the screens. When we do, we don’t put a hand up. Nobody should get 30-plus points on us, I don’t care who it is.
“There’s a tendency for one guard to go off on us and have a heyday against us because we don’t guard. That’s something I have to find a way to change, and that falls on me. At the end of the day, this team is my responsibility, I’ve got to find a way to make the changes.”
Lake Land’s next game is at Wabash Valley on Saturday, and the Lakers return home for a doubleheader on Wednesday against Kaskaskia.
Kuljuhovic scored on Lake Land’s first possession, but the Lakers were scoreless for the next 3 minutes and the game was tied at 4-4.
The two teams traded the lead, and Lewis & Clark was up 29-27 when Lake Land had a good stretch to end the half. The Lakers scored 17 points in final 5 minutes to give them a 44-37 lead going into halftime.
The good end to the first half carried over to the start of the second as Lake Land scored 10 points in the first 3 minutes and grabbed a 54-41 lead.
Lewis & Clark came back with a 9-0 run later to make it a 5-point game when Kuljuhovic made a layup and Tra Landers completed a traditional 3-point play for a 62-52 lead with 13:45 left in the game.
Lewis & Clark responded with a 10-0 run to tie the game at 62.
The two teams traded the lead when a 3-point play put Lewis & Clark up 72-70 with 7:35, and the Lakers trailed for the rest of the game.
Lake Land was down 90-89 with 1:41 left, but only scored 4 more points. Lewis & Clark scored the next 5 points for a 95-89 lead with 24 seconds left.
Lake Land made a couple of buckets, but Lewis & Clark held on for the 99-93 win.
“We will be okay. We will make changes and I have to find a way to get these guys motivated. That falls on me,” Colvin said.