MILLBURY — The Lake Flyers will enjoy Christmas at 6-0 overall and 4-0 in the Northern Buckeye Conference after making short work of an overmatched Elmwood team Friday night.
The host Flyers — who had four players score in double figures — parlayed a full-court press into a 31-13 lead after one quarter, then cruised to a 76-38 boys basketball victory.
Jared Rettig led Lake with 17 points and 14 rebounds, and fellow junior Connor Bowen was a rebound shy of a triple-double with 12 points, 12 assists, and nine rebounds in keeping the Flyers perfect heading into their holiday tournament next weekend.
Sophomore Brandyn Neal contributed 14 points and junior Todd Walters added 13 for Lake, which shot a sizzling 13-for-17 (76 percent) in the decisive first quarter.
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“We told the kids we wanted to jump on them early and often and fly around as much as we possibly could,” Lake coach Ryan Bowen said. “We pushed the ball up the floor nice, and the kids made their layups and did what they were told.
“They answered the bell coming out early, and it was a good job by everybody. We wanted to focus on our fundamentals and play team defense.”
Ahead 5-3 two minutes into the game, the Flyers turned eight Royals turnovers in the opening period into numerous transition buckets, and mixed in three 3-pointers as Elmwood struggled to even set up its offense.
“The kids did a good job [pressing] and rotated real well,” coach Bowen said. “When you press you’ve got to have all five guys doing it, and obviously we did that in the first quarter.”
Lake launched a 15-3 run, and hit 12 of 13 field-goal attempts to close the quarter, which was capped by Connor Bowen’s 3-pointer.
“We came out with a lot of energy and put the press on,” Connor Bowen said. “When we work as a team, we get a lot of steals, and that gets you the points.
“I just do what’s best for the team. If they need me to score, I’ll score. If I see a guy open, I’m going to dish it to him. When we move the ball around [quickly] like that, we get open lanes. We get good looks for 3-pointers or open layups.”
The Flyers stretched their lead to 49-23 by halftime, and upped it to 65-28 after three quarters before benching their starters with five minutes remaining.
“Lake’s one of the top two teams in our league,” Elmwood coach Ty Traxler said, “and we’re inexperienced and young and not overly athletic. They’re a horrible matchup for us, whether we played man or zone.
“We knew we’d have to catch them on an off-night, and obviously them scoring 31 points in the first quarter and getting into the lane whenever they wanted to was a problem.”
Elmwood was led in scoring by sophomore forward Trevor Solether’s 10 points, and got eight from 6-foot-5 senior Aaron Arnold.
Lake eventually cooled off to 47 percent (28 for 60) from the field, made 14 of 18 free throws (78 percent), and held a commanding 47-23 edge in rebounds. The Royals were 15 of 45 (33 percent) from the field, including 3 for 17 on 3-pointers, and hit just 5 of 14 free throws.
Lake will play Seneca East in the semifinals of its holiday tournament next Friday, and will face either Bryan or Cardinal Stritch the next night.
Contact Steve Junga at: email@example.com, or 419-724-6461 or on Twitter@JungaBlade.