Muskies pull out victory in head coach's debut
Athletics - posted on 11/22/2008
It was quite a season opener Saturday night for the young Lakeland men's basketball team.
Lakeland freshmen Josh Regal, Eric Vandivier and Jake Schwarz combined for 50 points to propel the Muskies to a 68-67 triumph over Lake Forest College in a non-conference showdown at Lake Forest, Ill.
The contest also marked the first career win for Lakeland head coach Aaron Aanonsen.
"We did a phenomenal job tonight of understanding our game plan," Aanonsen said. "Our guys tried very hard to execute and understood what we were looking for on the defensive end. There was never a doubt we were going to win that game, and that's the confidence we need to play with the rest of the season."
Schwarz, a forward out of Sheboygan, dropped in a pair of go-ahead free throws with 3.4 seconds remaining to give the Muskies (1-0) a one-point cushion. The Foresters missed the winning shot attempt from more than 30 feet out.
"We ran a high ball-screen play from the wing, Josh refused the screen and made a fantastic pass to Jake," Aanonsen said. "Jake was able to pump fake on the block and draw the foul. They called a timeout to try and ice him, but he was able to knock them down."
Vandivier scored six of his 18 points inside the last two minutes of the game, giving Lakeland a 66-65 lead on a three-point play with 47 seconds left in the contest. The Mt. Prospect, Ill., native shot 6-of-9 from the field and posted a game-high four steals.
"'Vandy' played with confidence that started on the defensive end," Aanonsen said. "He was active in the passing lanes and gaps. His defense fueled his offense, and he was able to get some easy jumpers from the corner as a result of our penetration off ball screens."
The night also belonged to Regal (Suring). The 5-foot-10 point guard registered a team-high 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Despite getting into foul trouble in the first half, Regal kept the Muskies in the game with 15 points in the frame.
The Muskies used the quickness and ball-handling of Regal, executing ball screens in the second half to free up open shooters and force the Foresters to guard Regal's penetration.
"I was a little nervous before the game, but when we got into the locker room, Coach told us not to play scared, or we'll make mistakes," Regal said. "Tonight I really just played my game. We've talked a lot about being the aggressor, so I was able to take the ball to the hole without playing scared."
After a four-point play by Regal put the Muskies ahead 33-29 with 3:06 remaining in the first half, the Foresters stormed to a 10-0 run to enter the locker room with a six-point lead.
Lake Forest (0-2) pushed its second-half lead to as many as 13 points before Lakeland clawed its way back into the game despite shooting just 44.4 percent from the free-throw line.
Lakeland returns to action this Tuesday to take on MacMurray in the team's home opener. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m. at Moose & Dona Woltzen Gymnasium.
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