Kobe Peck anticipated feeling pretty sore when he woke up Saturday, but knowing that his Lakota East basketball had added to its resume a win over intra-district rival Lakota West on Friday night probably would make him feel better.
The 6-foot Thunderhawks’ senior guard and 6-3 classmate Jadon Coles each scored 15 points to lead Lakota East to a 70-64 Greater Miami Conference win over the Firebirds at Lakota West on Friday. Senior forward Charlie Kenrich added 10 points and a game-high eight rebounds to help Lakota East overcome the scoring of Firebirds’ junior Nathan Dudukovich, who reached 32 points for the second time this season.
Peck left the game twice in the fourth quarter with injuries, first banging his head on the court after a hard foul by Dudukovich while going in for a layup and later turning his left ankle, but he still managed to score 10 second-half points to lead Lakota East back from a 32-31 halftime deficit.
“They beat us in football, so we wanted to make sure we got back at them,” Peck said. “This is a huge win for us.”
“I’ve been a part of this rivalry for 20 years,” Lakota East coach Clint Adkins said. “To come here and get a win could really help us at tournament time.”
The Thunderhawks went into the game tied with Princeton for third in the GMC. The Vikings beat Middletown, 77-70, on Friday, leaving both teams 4-1 in the conference. Lakota East improved to 5-1 overall.
Lakota East was leading the GMC in scoring going into the game with an average of 73.2 points per game. The Thunderhawks also were No. 1 in overall field-goal percentage with a 53.1 mark and 3-point percentage at a 44.9 clip, but what Lakota West coach Jim Leon found most intriguing about them was their new-found emphasis on pressing full-court. Lakota East deployed a variety of presses against the Firebirds, which sped up the game.
“Clint’s never done that before,” Leon said after the game. “He’s always been more of a walk-it-up guy.”
Adkins admitted after the game still is a work-in-progress, but Peck has seen improvement since the start of the season.
“It’s coming along,” Peck said.
“It’s not good enough yet, but we’re deep, so that’s a benefit,” Adkins said.
Credit: Nick Graham
Credit: Nick Graham
Both teams finished with 14 turnovers, but Leon agreed that facing constant on-the-ball pressure might’ve had something to do with Lakota West making just one 3-pointer in 11 tries and missing 12 of 27 free throws. Dudukovich went 5-for-12 on free throws.
“He missed seven free throws, and we lost by six,” Leon said, shaking his head as he looked at the stat sheet. “He never does that. Clint plays 10 players. Give them credit. He knows his players.”
Peck scored five points during Lakota East’s 9-2 run coming out of halftime that left the Thunderhawks with a lead they never gave up. They led by as many as 11 in the fourth quarter.
That sophomore point guard Bryson Curry wasn’t 100 percent didn’t help Lakota West handle the Thunderhawks’ pressure. Curry missed the Firebirds’ previous game against Princeton with a non-COVID related illness. Curry is one of four sophomores on Lakota West’s varsity roster, which also includes four juniors, three freshmen and one senior.
“We’re still searching for our identity,” Leon said. “We’re a little undersized. We’ve got two or three pretty good-sized freshmen and sophomores, but they’re not ready yet. Our goal is to be the best team we can be in February.”
Lakota West, now 3-3 overall and 2-3 in the GMC, is off until trekking to Harlan County in southeastern Kentucky to participate in a three-games-in-three-day tournament, starting with a matchup against Memphis (Tenn.) Fredrick Douglass on Dec. 27. Lakota East is off until Dec. 28, when it opens the three-games-in-three-days Junior Orange Bowl tournament in Miami, Fla.
That should give Peck plenty of time to heal.
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