LAKE TWP.: At the midway point of their Federal League schedule, the Lake Blue Streaks are in the driver’s seat to repeat as boys basketball champions.
With a 60-44 win Friday night over visiting Hoover, the Blue Streaks (10-0, 6-0) have now completed a sweep of the Vikings, and already own wins at Canton McKinley and Jackson.
The seventh-ranked Division I team in Ohio, Lake has a two-game lead in the Federal League race.
Lake senior forward Mitchell Spotleson collected 17 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks and two steals and the Blue Streaks closed the third quarter on an 11-4 run to regain control, after Hoover (5-5, 2-4) had sliced its deficit to six points.
“Mitch has been our team leader since third grade when he came over here from Glen-Oak,” Lake senior guard Jonny Flower said. “He’s just always been our leader. He’s one of the best players in the Federal League, if not the best.”
Nine Blue Streaks broke into the scoring column. Lake sank 16-of-28 free throws compared with 8-of-10 for Hoover.
With the severe weather early in the week, the Blue Streaks had just two days to prepare and their coach Tom McBride was pleased with his team’s performance.
“I thought we fought a little bit of adversity this week because we weren’t in the gym much,” McBride said. “That was a goal tonight, we wanted to go pillar to post, and that’s what we’ve talked about, and I don’t think we’ve put it together yet for 32 [minutes].”
Trailing 28-15 at half, Hoover whittled its deficit to 30-24 on two free throws by junior Matt Zehnder at 4:51 of the third quarter.
Flower’s jumper and Spotleson’s 3-point play highlighted a strong finish to the third quarter and Lake led 41-28 after three.
“Our coaches do a good job challenging us every day to get better,” Spotleson said. “We know we have plenty of room to get better.”
Lake led by at least 11 points the rest of the way and pushed out to a 58-40 lead with 1:13 left.
“I thought we competed in the second half,” Hoover coach Randy Montgomery said. “I didn’t think we competed in the first half very hard.”
The Vikings were without injured senior guard Nick Evans.
Montgomery did say his team is road weary after being stuck New Year’s Eve at Chicago O’Hare Airport, trying to get home from Arizona.
The Vikings have not played a home game since Dec. 17.
Junior swing player Tony Iero sank four 3-point baskets and led Hoover with 16 points. Vikings junior center Phil Shori had four points and 12 rebounds.
Lake sophomore Chandler Vaudrin popped in 13 points, and junior Alex Belinsky and Flower each had nine points. Belinsky also had four assists.
After Hoover scored the game’s first two points, five different Blue Streaks scored during a 17-5 spurt and their lead ballooned to 21-10, after Flower backdoor cut for a lay-in on an assist from junior guard Chase Champagne.