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Lake Catholic vs. Riverside boys basketball: Cougars use second quarter run as launching pad for 66-56 victory

Jan. 5—Lake Catholic trailed by double digits in the first quarter against Riverside in a nonconference game Jan. 5. The Cougars went on a run before the half and had it down to a two-point deficit.

They carried that into the second half and swung it into their own double-digit lead. But the Beavers battled back with a run of their own in the fourth quarter and trimmed it to a four-point Lake Catholic lead.

The Cougars came out of a timeout and pushed the lead back to double figures to secure a 66-56 victory. Lake Catholic moved to 5-3 while Riverside fell to 2-7.

Lake Catholic was down early because of the strong shooting of Riverside's Colin Durkin. He had three 3-pointers in the opening frame and pushed the Beavers to a 10-point lead at the the end of the quarter.

PHOTOS: Lake Catholic vs. Riverside boys basketball, Jan. 5, 2024

Riverside maintained that margin for a majority of the second quarter, but the Cougars started their run with time winding down. They went on an 8-2 run that pushed the score to a one-possession game.

Coach Matt Vespa was pleased with how his team responded to the early challenge. The Cougars had an up-and-own start to the season, and he views this as a starting point for consistency.

"We'd been off for two weeks with just practice and no games," Vespa said. "We needed to get a little punched in the face to wake up and realize we were in a game. A lot of credit to Riverside, they win in a lot of things so we knew they were going to show up and go. We needed to answer the challenge and switched up into a lot of defenses."

Lake Catholic carried that momentum into the second half and turned the deficit into a double-digit lead of its own. Peyton Budrys-Rini was a driving force in the lead.

He had four points at the half but finished with a game-high 19 points.

Budrys-Rini emphasized the Cougars' unselfishness in the second half. They had 10 assists in the contest with several of the swing passes finding open shooters for shots from deep.

"We trusted each other a lot more in the second half," Budrys-Rini said. "In the first half, we were doing too much one-on-one and Iso ball rather than getting the ball to all the guys. Today was pretty different, a lot of unified stuff and connectivity on the offensive end. I think the break and a couple of practices in that time was a really big help for us."

Lake Catholic also had three other players reach double figures with Aiden Webb (17 points), Ace Peterlin (13 points) and Cross Nimmo (11 points). All three also played an important role in Lake Catholic's board control.

Vespa said it was going to be a challenge on the glass with Riverside's size inside, but they were ready.

"On a night like tonight, you could see what they were capable of on the court," Vespa said. "Ace did a great job, Cross in the second half did a great job of stretching the floor and boxing out wrestling an athlete like that down low. Peyton hit some shots and it was nice to see him come into his own. Aiden Webb also had some big plays at the end, we have a multitude of guys that can make plays for us."

Riverside was down nine going to the start of the fourth quarter but went on an 8-3 run that got the game within reach but were unable to overtake the Cougars.

Durkin led the way with 18 points and coupled with the comeback attempt, that is something coach Matt Grendel is happy to see with his team. He wants his young team to find consistency so Riverside doesn't need to rely on late runs to have chances to win games.

"I was really happy to see that from Colin," Grendel said. "He puts a lot of time into his game and to see him have that success early on is great. We wanted to pick up the pace, force some more turnovers and be more aggressive on defense. Our biggest issue has been our second and third quarters. We have to continue to look at rotations and try to become the best team that we can be in all situations."

Brady McKnight was also in double figures with 11 points for Riverside.

The Beavers look to snap their three-game losing streak when Collinwood visits on Jan. 9. Lake Catholic looks to push its win streak to three when it travels to Kenston the same day.

THE SCORE

Lake Catholic 66, Riverside 56