Lansing’s outstanding basketball season has been fueled by its defense, and the Lions relied on that strength as they headed into Friday night’s showdown at Mill Valley.
By TODD ENGLE
Special to The Star
“We had it in our mind, don’t worry about offense. Just worry about locking up, and the offense will come,” senior Roy Clayter said.
Did it ever.
Lansing used quick hands and quicker feet, particularly in the second quarter, to shut down Mill Valley and roll to a 50-37 victory.
About that deciding second quarter: Lansing (17-1) started it down by six after letting Mill Valley patiently work its sets and get open looks in the opening frame.
The Lions turned up the pressure, and the results were immediate. Deflections led to steals. Steals led to unselfishly finished fast breaks.
Lansing forced nine Mill Valley turnovers in the quarter — 20 for the game — and held the Jaguars (15-3) to just two points.
“We try to turn up the heat for like 32 minutes, but sometimes we don’t quite get that accomplished. But tonight in the second quarter, that was enough for us,” Lansing coach Rod Briggs said. “A 19-2 run kinda helps you a little bit.”
Lansing wasn’t comfortable despite an 11-point lead at the break. It had built a 19-point halftime lead in the first meeting against the Jaguars, only to hold on by five.
Mill Valley got as close as nine points early in the fourth quarter, but that was it.
“The last game we thought we were going to just coast to it, and that didn’t get the job done,” Clayter said. “We came out here and said ‘We’re not playing around today. We’re going to come out and get this win.’ ”
Clay Young scored a game-high 13 points for Lansing, while Clayter and Joe Schneider finished with 12 points.
Mill Valley got nine points from senior Nathan Stacy and eight from Patrick Muldoon. But the Jaguars never were able to regain the offensive rhythm they displayed in the first quarter.
There were open looks in the third quarter, but very few of them fell. There was a prime chance to cut the deficit to six early in the fourth quarter, but two clean looks at three-pointers clanged off the rim.
“Their ability to hit shots at times put so much more pressure on our team to hit shots, and the basket was the size of a golf hole tonight for us. That puts more pressure on our defense. They ran their stuff hard. That’s something else that’s disappointing. We should’ve reacted in a similar fashion. And everything they did do tonight, we didn’t do,” Mill Valley coach Justin Bogart said.
Defense might not be sexy, but it’ll win ball games.
“After we get a stop, it fuels us. Then we get another stop and it’s a chain reaction. We’re going to get stops. We have the ability to,” Clayter said. “When we lock down, it’s hard to beat us.”