Lakota East’s intra-district boys’ basketball game against Lakota West on Friday drew a sellout crowd to the Thunderhawks’ gym.
It was so packed that county deputies were making sure folks had tickets before even letting them in the door.
The atmosphere was boisterous – until the second half. Lakota East took control with a dominant third quarter and led by as many as 27 points before settling for a 62-42 win that allowed the Thunderhawks to maintain their hold on first place in the Greater Miami Conference.
Lakota East junior Nate Johnson just missed a double-double while leading both teams with 15 points and nine rebounds. Seniors Kaden Fuhrmann and Alex Mangold each added 13 and sophomore Jaden Coles finished with 12 – all in the first half – for the Thunderhawks.
“It was a total team effort,” Lakota East coach Clint Adkins said. “Look at Jaden Coles. He’s averaging about four points a game and he gave us a big lift in the first half.”
The Thunderhawks have won seven straight and 10 of the last 11 games in the series. Every Lakota East win in that stretch has been by at least 10 points.
“We just have really good players who buy into the culture,” Adkins said. “They’re unselfish. When you buy into the culture and don’t care who scores, good things can happen.”
Senior Tate Fishman led Lakota West with 13 points. Senior Julian Mackey also reached double figures with 12 for the Firebirds. Lakota West coach Jim Leon chose to not comment after the game
Lakota East (12-2, 8-1), the defending GMC champion, dubbed the game an “Orange Out,” which included a series of events to raise money for the Dragonfly Foundation. They included selling orange T-shirts, leaving the student section resembling a Florida citrus grove.
Lakota East took command in the third quarter, outscoring Lakota West 25-7. The Thunderhawks scored two more points in the third quarter than they’d scored the entire first half.
“It was the intensity,” said Johnson, in the spirit of the night even after the game with orange shoes. “We came out excited at the start of the game, but then we kind of settled down. We talked about it at halftime.”
Lakota East shot 50 percent from the field (11-for-22) after halftime.
The Firebirds went into the game off a 72-47 GMC loss at Hamilton, extending their losing streak to five games. They’d lost the previous four by a combined 12 points. The Thunderhawks were coming off a 49-42 GMC win at Sycamore that kept them in first place, a game ahead of Oak Hills.
The intra-district rivals are scheduled to meet again on February 14 – Valentine’s Day – at Lakota West (6-8, 4-5).
The Firebirds are due to return to action with a non-league at Kentucky’s Dixie Heights in the third of four straight road games. Their next GMC game is Friday at Princeton.
The Thunderhawks are off until playing a GMC game at Mason next Friday.
Lakota East never trailed after Coles scored five points and Johnson four during a 9-0 game-opening run. Fishman scored the last six points of the quarter for Lakota West to cut the Thunderhawks’ lead to 15-10.
The teams needed more than 2-1/2 minutes to score in the second quarter. Lakota East held the ball for the final minute against a Firebirds’ zone defense and ended up not getting off a shot before the buzzer.
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