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Batavia comes from behind, beats Lake Park in OT
By Bill Stone | Daily Herald Correspondent
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Published: 2/21/2013 11:45 PM

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Batavia senior basketball player Jake Pollack had a big fourth quarter Thursday at Lake Park without even scoring a point.

After helping the game reach overtime, Pollack and the Bulldogs broke through.

Pollack scored the first four points of the extra session and Batavia led the rest of the way for a 54-49 Upstate Eight Conference crossover victory in Roselle after never leading in regulation.

“That was great. I was really feeling a lot more comfortable since the first (shot) went in, and the rest just started falling through,” Pollack said.

“That was a great team win. In the fourth quarter and overtime we were working all cylinders, had good bench time (from reserves) and really played well.”

Pollack had the first six points of overtime for Batavia (11-14) and finished with 15 points and two 3-pointers. Senior Zach Strittmatter had 12 points with eight in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Senior Michael VanAswegen had 23 points with five 3-pointers for the Lancers (14-12). Senior Jake Ktsanes added 10 points and 9 rebounds.

Batavia finally tied the game 44-44 on the last shot of regulation with 2.9 seconds left. Senior Mike Rueffer took an inbounds pass from Strittmatter at midcourt and banked home a driving shot down the right side of the lane.

In overtime the Bulldogs opened a 52-46 lead before VanAswegen’s 3 with 36 seconds to go. Rueffer and Strittmatter sealed the victory with free throws.

“I believe this is a great character team, and in games late in February to come back like that, I think this kind of typifies it,” said Batavia coach Jim Nazos, who used 11 players. “There were a lot of different hands in that win. It was a ton of guys playing hard.”

In the fourth quarter Pollack had no points but four of his 7 rebounds, 2 assists and a blocked shot. Perhaps his biggest contribution was defending VanAswegen man-to-man after halftime, helping to limit him following a 17-point first half.

“He’s a tough player to guard. They’re really good at setting screens,” Pollack said. “We just had to play through it, play strong and it worked out.”

Lake Park came out energetic on its Senior Night with all four seniors starting both halves — VanAswegen, Ktsanes, Jeremy Caboor and Carlos Cortez. The Lancers zipped to a 19-9 lead and were ahead 30-22 at halftime.

“They’re a great team. In the first quarter they were kicking our tails,” Nazos said. “It looked like it was going to be a 30-point game, but I thought we did a great of hanging in there, just concentrating on stops, play by play.”

Despite a five-point third quarter the Lancers still led 41-33 with 4:39 left but scored three free throws the rest of regulation. Strittmatter delivered his only 3 with 49.1 seconds left and two free throws, right after two free throws by Ktsanes, to cut the gap to 43-42 with 10.9 seconds left.

Cortez made one of two free throws with 9.3 seconds left. Cortez then stole the ball at midcourt but was immediately called for an over-and-back violation, and the Bulldogs ran their game-tying inbounds play.

“I think it came down to toughness, and Batavia was just tougher. We showed some skill, but we didn’t show the toughness that you needed to win a close game late,” Lake Park coach Josh Virostko said. “There were so many chances to extend and win the game, and we just couldn’t do it.”

Both teams were seeking momentum for their regional openers Monday after finishing fifth in their respective UEC divisions and having tough ends to their regular seasons. Entering Thursday, Batavia was 1-6 in its previous seven games. Lake Park finished its regular season 1-6.

“It’s a great shot in the arm for the first game of playoffs, and I’m feeling a win (Monday),” Pollack said.

“We’ll see where our mental state is at Monday,” Virostko said. “If they want to keep playing, they have a chance, but if they don’t want to keep on playing, it won’t matter.”