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The Lakeland men's basketball team isn't going to be picky when it comes to wins.
Sure, after leading by 20 in the second half, the 79-73 final score of the Muskies' win over Benedictine on Saturday might not look all that impressive.
But considering Lakeland snapped a three-game losing streak with the victory to keep pace in a crowd of teams near the top of the Northern Athletics Conference, there was a reason the post-game locker room had plenty of smiles.
Lakeland (11-7, 7-4) jumped out to leads of 12-1 and 28-7, and had a 22-point, 52-30 cushion with 16:41 to play. Benedictine (6-12, 5-6) cut the lead to four in the closing minute, but free throws and timely rebounding sealed the game for Lakeland.
"I'm going to try to never take a win for granted," said Lakeland head coach Kyle Brumett. "Yeah I wish we would have won by 20 and I wish we would have held them in the 60s defensively. But you've got to learn how to do that too. The previous experience for these guys was to lose games like this."
Lakeland's seniors showed their experience Saturday in putting up some big numbers. Aaron Regal, playing in front of a big crowd of family and friends from his hometown of Suring, scored 25 points on 7 of 14 shooting, including 5 of 9 from 3-point range. Kris Saiberlich finished with 21 on 5 of 10 shooting from long range, and Shane Grube scored 16 and grabbed eight rebounds.
"In the loss to MSOE this week, on the offensive end I thought we played robotic instead of just being basketball players and taking what they were giving us," Brumett said. "Aaron and Kris and Shane and Peter (Worth) have got to have some freedom. We did a better job of making plays for each other today.
"We had guys step up and take big shots. Some of those shots Kris made really deflated them, and Aaron hit some threes off ball reversals that took the wind out of their sails."
With NAC-leader Aurora's win over Edgewood on Saturday, the Muskies are tied for third in the loss column with Edgewood and Concordia, Wis., a game behind Marian and Wisconsin Lutheran, who are tied for second.
Lakeland plays an important NAC game Tuesday night at Edgewood, but the focus, at least for a few hours on Saturday, was enjoying an important win.
"I thought for the first time in awhile we defended well and played carefree instead of careless," Brumett said. "When we started the game as well as we did, it let our guys take a deep breath and just play."