The purpose of scheduling difficult non-league foes early in the season is to improve.
This goal was defined by the Lake City Timberwolves in a 62-49 loss to visiting Centennial in boys basketball Saturday afternoon.
After watching his young team, which has only one starter back from last season’s Inland Empire League champions, struggle, coach Jim Winger tried to put the experience into words.
“I’m not worried what our record is going into league play, as long as we keep improving,” Winger said.
Improvement is necessary if the T-Wolves plan to defend their IEL crown. Shooting would be a good place to start.
Lake City was 16 of 54 from the field, including 6 of 27 shooting inside the 3-point arc.
“I still believe we’ve got good shooters and it’s hard to say why we’re not hitting our shots,” Winger said.
In contrast, Centennial shot 50 percent for the game with 20-point efforts from Grant Ebright and Andy Reed. The duo was backed up by Andy Wycherly, who filled in at starting wing while Matt Swanson, the only returning starter, was away on a football recruiting trip.
“Reed and Ebright were great contributors, but we really got a lift from Wycherly stepping up with Swanson gone,” Centennial coach Tom Aipperspach said.
Chad Cheeley led Lake City with 19 points, even though Centennial keyed on him. Cheeley is 12 for 12 from the free-throw line over two games.
“We thought that we had to stop Cheeley to be successful today and I thought our guys did a good job covering him,” Aipperspach said.
The game was close early as both teams had trouble shooting from outside. Then the Patriots got hot toward the end of the first quarter as Ebright scored seven points in the last 3 minutes.
Lake City (1-3) kept it even for the rest of the half to go into the dressing room down 28-20.
Reed scored nine points in the third quarter, finishing with a buzzer-beater from just inside the arc that put Centennial up by 13 points.
Although Lake City continued to hustle until the final buzzer, the Timberwolves couldn’t make up any ground as Centennial (2-2) continued to shoot well.
“I like the way we fight back,” Winger said. “The kids won’t quit and I’m sure not going to.”
Centennial 62, Lake City 49
Centennial 17 11 18 16 - 62
Lake City 8 12 13 16 - 49
CENTENNIAL Ebright 20, Reed 20, Wycherly 12, Swensen 5, Bianchi 2, Zimmerman 3.
LAKE CITY Cheely 19, Barlow 16, Bramlet 2, Stroh 4, Reiswig 3, Anderson 3, Nipp 2.