BY TIMOTHY W. SHIRER
(KIRTLAND, OH) - The Lakeland Lakers men’s basketball team opened their season on Monday night against the Lourdes University Gray Wolves at the Lakeland Athletic & Fitness Center. The season begins with extreme optimism as the Lakers made it to the final four of the NJCAA Championships last season and hope too take the next step this season as they entered the year ranked fifth in the national pre-season poll. Nothing happened on Monday night to dim the optimism as the Lakers rolled over the Gray Wolves 76-55 to notch their first win of the season.
The Lakers got off to hot start as they moved to an early 8-2 lead over Lourdes as sophomore guard Charles Oliver had all eight points for the Lakeland to start the game. The Lakers extended the lead to 27-8 with 9:18 left in the first half. Sophomore guard Martell Medley got hot in the run and had 10 points at the 9:18 mark, Oliver had 12.
The Gray Wolves then made a run and pulled to 36-22 at the 2:29 mark of the half. The Lakers lead shrunk to 41-30 at the half time break.
Oliver led all scorers at the break with 15 points, Medley had 10. Noah Guthrie, Jerah’me Williams and Josh Perry all had six points a piece to lead the Gray Wolves.
The first nine minutes of the second half was similar to the last minutes of the first half as the Gray Wolves seemed to have most of the energy as they first pulled to 45-40 with 16:20 left in the game and then 49-47 with 11:14 left on the clock.
From there on out the Lakers overpowered Lourdes outscoring them 27-8 in the final 11:17 of the game.
The Lakers pulled out to a 56-47 lead with 9:14 left in the game and Lakeland then drained the rest of the energy out of Lourdes when Richard Smith slammed a dunk home to put the Lakers up 60-47 and then Medley dunked on two consecutive possessions to give the Lakers the 65-49 lead and secure the win.
The Lakers had a trio lead the game in scoring, Medley, Oliver and Sophomore Deran Banton all had 17 points in the win. LeBron James look alike Jerome Tanton led the Gray Wolves with 14 points. Richard Smith led all rebounders in the game with 11 boards.
The Lady Lakers played their opener prior to the men's game and got off to a quick start jumping on the visiting Lourdes University Gray Wolves 12-2 to start the game but went into a scoring lull midway through the first half, with Lourdes eventually taking a 21-17 lead with 3:58 left in the first half.
The Lady Lakers came back to tie the game at half time 21-21. Freshman Ashley Speight and fellow Freshman Jannelle Jirousek led the Lakers in scoring at the half with six points each.
The Lakers came out flat in the second half and could never recover as the Gray Wolves shot out to an 11 point lead 54-43 and never looked back cruising to the victory 58-53.
Lourdes guard India Banks led all scorers in the game with 19 points.
Speight had a double double for the Lakers as she tallied 14 points and 17 rebounds to lead Lakeland in both categories.
The Lady Lakers had three players in double figures, Speight along with Jirousek who had 13 and Freshman Lamia Whitefield who also tallied 13 points in the game.
The difference in the game was turnovers as Lakeland turned the ball over 28 times and the Gray Wolves only turned it over 10 times.
Both the men's and women's Lakeland teams will be in action next on Friday for the fifth annual TJ Tournament. The women will take on Lake Erie College's JV team at 6:00 p.m. and the Men will be in action at 8:00 p.m. against the Mercyhurst North East Saints.
firstname.lastname@example.org or follow Tim on Twitter @TimothyShirer