Their senior point guard was saddled with two early fouls, and thus on the bench.
That forced the Seattle Prep Panthers to go even younger for most of the first half of their Metro League boys basketball game at Lakeside on Friday night.
Seattle Prep made it work, managed to take a nine-point lead to the half, then got their point – Laurence Hicks – back on the floor to start the third quarter of a 51-37 victory over the Lions.
“With a very young team on the court, we were able to extend the lead at the half,” Seattle Prep coach Mike Kelly said. “That was the key.”
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The win solidified Seattle Prep’s hold on third place in the Mountain Division. Coming off a tough double-overtime loss to second-place O’Dea earlier in the week, the Panthers (12-6 overall, 10-4 Metro) overcame some sluggishness from fatigue and finals week at school to beat Lakeside (7-10, 5-8).
In doing so, Seattle Prep also held the league’s leading scorer, Lakeside sophomore Isiah Brown, below his season average. Brown had been on a run of four games with at least 30 points, including a 53-point performance two Friday’s ago against O’Dea.
He is averaging more than 27 points a game overall.
“I don’t think anyone could name the last time in this league that a sophomore led the league in scoring,” Lakeside coach Tavio Hobson said. “He’s doing things historically that haven’t been done in this league.”
On Friday, though, Seattle Prep frustrated Brown – at least for three quarters. The Panthers rotated defenders on the silky sophomore, and ran double- and triple-teams at him constantly.
The result was that Brown didn’t score in the first quarter. He had just four points at the half, and nine after three quarters.
“We were just really trying to double him off the ball,” said Hicks, one of the three guys assigned to cover Brown.
With Lakeside trailing 33-18 entering the fourth quarter, Brown finally found the basket. He scored the first seven points of the final quarter for the Lions, and had 15 total in the quarter to finish with 24.
“You’re really just hoping that your team never loses concentration and give him a moment to get confident,” Kelly said. “I think if you asked him, I’d guess he would say he never got into a real rhythm tonight.”
In reality, neither team did.
Seattle Prep kept it more interesting down the stretch than it might have been by shooting just 12 of 22 from the free throw line. Twice in the final 3:13 of the game Lakeside closed to within seven – at 40-33 and again at 44-37.
But the Lions couldn’t get any closer. The Panthers did make five of their final six at the free throw line to finally put it away.
For Seattle Prep, Vincenzo Reiser came off the bench to lead the Panthers with 17 points. He and Brown were the only two players in double figures scoring.
Lakeside actually led it 4-0 until Aaron Nettles made a 3-pointer for Seattle Prep with 3:07 left in the first quarter. That started a 14-0 Panther run, and they never trailed again.