Lakers break loose in the second half for 68-41 victory

by Joe DiBlasi

Playing with a twisted right ankle, suffered in Friday night’s win over Glenelg Country School, Boys’ Latin’s Cameron Watts was a game-time decision for the 6th-ranked Lakers’ in Saturday’s high noon rivalry showdown with No. 20 St. Paul’s, in Brooklandville. According to Watts, however, there was never really and doubt he would play.

Cameron Watts scored 17 points with sore ankle to lead BL to victory.

“I look forward to this game every year,” said Watts, his ankle wrapped in ice, shortly after he drained four three-pointers and scored 17 points to lead the Lakers to a 68-41 win. “This is always the biggest game. Ever since my freshman year, it has always been big. I iced it all night, propped it up and coach let me go.”

The game was big for Boys’ Latin head coach Cliff Rees as well, with the veteran coach capturing career win 150.

The host Crusaders hung with the sharp-shooting Lakers for the first 16 minutes, trailing by just three, 25-22, at intermission. But BL erupted for 43 points in second half to cruise to an easy win.

Watts had 11 of his team’s 25 third quarter points. Sam Grace hit five three pointers to finish with 15, and Cameon Spencer added 11.

Spencer went over the 1,000 career point mark against Mount Saint Joseph last Wednesday, but was saddled with early foul trouble on Saturday, which limited some of his aggressiveness. The talented senior now has 1,056 total points in a stellar career at BL.

“Cam Spencer had three fouls [at the half], so I knew I was going to have to take on a little bit of his workload and get to the basket,” said Watts. “They had a push out zone, so we were missing a lot of threes in the beginning. Luckily, I had a couple in the third quarter.”

BL finished with 13 three-pointers, which is not usual, but the Laker shots were not falling with the regular frequency in the first half. Rees, however, adjusted and added more ball movement and backdoor cuts, which produced some easier hoops and helped down wear down the Crusaders. After that, the outside looks improved and threes began to fall.

“I told them at halftime that we were playing passive,” said Rees who sensed a lack of energy during early warmups because of the quick turnaround from Friday’s game. “We harped on attacking the zone, and getting dribble penetration to the paint. It was a matter of getting the kids to do it, because they didn’t do it in the first half.”

St. Pauls coach Phil Hahn came into the contest wanting to see great effort from his squad.

“They spread the floor, and shoot the ball, and they did that exceptionally well,” said Hahn. “We played mostly zone defense, and it’s hard to hold down a bunch of shooters like these guys for long. We played great the first two quarters, and our energy level was great, but they got out in transition on us and hit four or five in a row, and once we had to go to a man, they knew what to do with that.

“If we play with the effort we played with today, in the first two-and-half quarters, we will be very hard to beat down the stretch.”

Troy Barthleme had 15 points to lead the Crusaders and Ziggy Reid added 14.

NO. 6 BOYS’ LATIN 68, NO. 20 ST. PAUL’S 41
BL 9 16 25 18 — 68
SP 9 13 12 7 — 41
BL: Walker 8, Watts 17, Grace 15, W.Soencer 2, Spells 2. C. Spencer 11, Akuffo 4. Nichols 9.
SP: Smaldmore 3, Reid 14, Barthelme 15, Kelly 4. Moore 1, Pierce 2, Trotta 2.