WINONA LAKE — The Lakeland Christian Academy boys basketball team had the chips stacked against them before Tuesday night’s game with Community Baptist even tipped. The Cougars were without starting guard and leading scorer Josh McDaniel who had to miss the game due to a severe illness. While things started well for LCA, Community Baptist quickly turned the tide and was able to leave with a 65-50 victory.
LCA started out up 4-0 thanks to back-to-back baskets from Braxton Keller. That helped the Cougars build up a 9-4 lead early in the game, but things changed on a dime. Community Baptist went on a 20-0 run that carried over into the second quarter to take total control of the ballgame. The Cougars were outscored 21-5 in the second quarter and trailed 32-14 at the break. Keller finished with 10 points, a new career high.
Coming out of the locker room, the Cougars looked more relaxed and comfortable on the court. The first half showed the importance of McDaniel’s absence. The final two quarters, however, were a sign of progress.
“He (McDaniel) fouled out of a few games earlier this season and our guys really didn’t know what to do,” LCA head coach Christopher Hohm said. “I thought tonight would be a good opportunity for us to work on our offense without him. Of course, the second half, we scored more. It wasn’t necesarily a fluid offense, it was more along the lines of just having to make a play. But guys had to step up and they did, I just wish we would’ve been doing that from the beginning of the game.”
While McDaniel’s per game average of 16.7 points was missed, LCA had several players eventually step up. Jake Harmon made the biggest transformation from start to finish on the night. Harmon struggled to find the hoop through the first three quarters, scoring no points, but the sophomore found his groove in the fourth. Harmon scored 19 points in the final quarter, fueled by five threes. He finished his night as LCA’s leading scorer.
“He’s a good shooter,” Hohm said of Harmon. “It was atypical for him to miss so many shots early. I think he started to doubt himself a little, I told him to just keep shooting, I don’t care if you miss 10 in a row, just keep shooting. Suddenly the shots started dropping. He had those same looks all night, they just weren’t falling early on.”
LCA tried to make a run in the third, but that was thwarted. The Cougars outscored their visiting foes 25-19 in the final frame, but it was too little too late.
Community Baptist was led offensively by Geoffrey Pelletier’s 24 points. Javon Small and Daniel Endres added 20 and 15 for the visitors, respectively.
LCA was led by Harmon’s fourth quarter efforts followed by Landon Twombly’s 18 points and Keller’s 10. Elijah Raymond was the only other LCA player to score as he finished his night with three. Twombly and Raymond also tied for the team lead with nine rebounds.