While winter break rolls on for Lewis and Clark students, the school’s basketball teams are back at work inside the George C. Terry Riverbend Arena. On Wednesday January 8, the men’s basketball Trailblazers entered quite a busy stretch, playing the first of five games in ten days from the 8th to the 18th. They welcomed the Falcons of Southeastern Illinois College to Godfrey in the first contest of the busy 10-day period.
The Trailblazers looked comfortable early, jumping to a 20-4 lead in just the first five minutes of action, but past that, still looked like they were getting back in the swing of things after the break. The Trailblazers won the game, 86-72, but never quite put Southeastern away.
“We didn’t play the way we wanted to play.” Said L&C assistant coach Kavon Lacey, following the game. “After having days of practice and doing things the way we wanted to do them, we really didn’t execute the way we wanted. Teams like that hang around, and they kind of hung around a little bit too much. Credit to the guys for putting them away, but we gotta play a better forty minutes.”
Lacey, head coach Doug Stotler, and everyone who’s a moving part of this Trailblazer machine, all know what they have to do to be successful. They’re slightly undersized, with no bigs, so they have to be active on defense to prevent easy looks and drives to the basket, and have to be even more aggressive when rebounding the basketball, to prevent simple second chances in the paint. When they aren’t sharp on these fronts, their game suffers.
“That’s what we gotta hang our hat on, rebounding and defense.” Lacey acknowledged, “Tonight we didn’t do a good job rebounding, period. Our defense, well they just kinda drove by us and got easy shots. They just didn’t make a lot of them. We didn’t really give them a lot of resistance, we can do a much better job, and I think we will going forward.”
With a number of games in the next few days, the goal for the Trailblazers is to play their game, playing to their strengths, primarily their speed and shooting ability. The Trailblazers shot over 50% from three-point land against Southeastern, which is partially a product of having regular practices again, but also an accurate representation of how dangerous this team is when shooting in rhythm.
As highlighted at the beginning of this report, Wednesday night’s victory was the first of five games in a ten day span for the men’s basketball team, who will have to stay sharp with games coming thick and fast.
“We’re not going to have a lot of prep time or practice time, so when we can, we want to be able to execute.” Lacey noted postgame. “We had a couple good days of practice going into (Wednesday’s game), I feel like we kind of took a step back from what we were wanting and trying to do. Great job getting the win, but we have to be better.”
Despite not playing their best basketball since the break, the Trailblazers are winners of four straight, and are poised to make some noise in Region 24 as we get into the heart of the basketball season. They travel to scenic Mattoon, Illinois this Saturday to face Lake Land College’s aptly named Lakers. For schedules/rosters for men’s basketball and all Trailblazer sports, visit LC.edu/Athletics.