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Lakes is equal to the task in win over Antioch
By Patricia Babcock McGraw | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 12/9/2012 12:00 AM

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If only Congress could be as productive as the Lakes boys basketball team.

Maybe the fiscal cliff would have been averted long ago.

Here’s what the efficient Eagles did in just the last week: they won three games, including two rivalry games, and they learned a brand new scheme that is largely responsible for all of this winning in the first place.

Although Lakes is new to its full-time, full-court pressing defense, Antioch would have never guessed it.

The Eagles looked like experts, and were relentless with their pressure all over the floor Saturday night. At times, they nearly suffocated visiting Antioch en route to a commanding 64-28 North Suburban Conference Prairie Division victory.

Antioch and Lakes, which improves to 7-2 and 3-0 in the division, are intra-district rivals. On Friday night, the Eagles got a 57-54 victory over their other big rival, Grayslake North, by also serving up plenty of pressure.

“We just want to make teams frustrated so that we can get as many steals and layups in our press as well can,” said Lakes senior guard Troy Swindle, who scored a game-high 15 points, including two 3-pointers. “We’ve been working in practice (this week) up and down the court for two hours straight every night.

“We’ve got really good breath on this team. We can run a lot. We don’t get tired, so we can put it on the other team.”

The Eagles fired up their press right out of the box, and it worked beautifully. They ran out to a 12-0 lead before Antioch scored its first bucket at the 4:10 mark.

Lakes generated much of its offense during that dominating opening run off of Antioch turnovers, and that trend continued throughout the game. The Sequoits (1-5, 0-2 Prairie) finished with 25 turnovers. Always rushed and harassed, they also hit just 24 percent of their shots.

By halftime, Lakes was up by 21 points (39-18).

“We practiced for (the press), but we just didn’t execute like we wanted to,” Antioch guard Anthony Marsiglio said. “It got pretty frustrating with all the turnovers. It got to us. I guess we were just scared. The hype of the game got to us, I guess.”

For the Eagles, the hype only fueled them more.

“When you get in these rivalry-type games, everyone is pumped up,” said Lakes senior guard Jake Kohler, who finished with 14 points. “You’re ready to go from the start, even at 6 a.m. when we had our team breakfast we were ready.

“Our defense was really solid today. We’ve been getting after it in practice with our defense. We just learned it, but Coach (Chris Snyder) keeps us going with it.”

Snyder is amazed at how quickly his players have picked up the press. After Thanksgiving, where Lakes’ lack of size was exposed in a couple of tournament games, he knew he needed a way to compensate.

The press was the answer.

“We figured that we have the right personnel for (the press),” Snyder said. “It’s a work in progress, but we’re starting to see some good results. It gets our guys going, and it highlights our strengths, one of which is athleticism.”

Another strength seems to be depth. The Eagles got points from eight different players. Senior guard Andrew Spencer gave Lakes a third player in double-figures. He had 10 points.

Antioch also got scoring from 8 players but no one reached double-figures. Senior guard Anthony Formella paced the Sequoits with 6 points. Both of his buckets were 3-pointers.

“We just didn’t have it tonight and they’re big and they swarmed us,” Antioch coach Jim White said. “They were up on us and we couldn’t see over them. We just weren’t confident with the ball. It’s painful. It’s something that we’ve been working on for the last two years.”