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PREP BOYS BASKETBALL: Lakeland steals 61-56 win from Goshen in final minutes at home

Feb. 6—GOSHEN — Trapping the RedHawks at midcourt, the Lakeland Lakers stole several late Goshen possessions Tuesday night on the way to a 61-56 win over the RedHawks at Interra Gym on the campus of Goshen High School.

A game the home 'Hawks controlled in spurts slipped through their fingers in the final moments, halting what could have been two consecutive wins following a thrilling overtime victory over Plymouth last Thursday.

Goshen head coach Michael Wohlford summed up what went wrong for his group Tuesday night.

"Yeah, their trapping and pressure really got us late," Wohlford said about the Lakers 12-0 run to end the game Tuesday. "I thought we played really well for 28 minutes; the first and third quarters were excellent. Second quarter we fouled a little too much. That was kind of a theme tonight was we got in foul trouble, put them on the free throw line and then we turned it a lot over late."

Goshen held quarter-starting leads all night with a 45-40 advantage heading into the fourth quarter. A 56-49 RedHawk lead was created at the 2:45 minute mark when senior Gage Worthman converted a tough layup over the length of the Laker defender. That edge dissolved slowly when pressure on Goshen's guards caused repetitive turnovers for buckets on the other end.

After another steal and layup for Lakeland's Keyan Arroyo gave the Lakers the 57-56 lead, Worthman's 3-ball went halfway down before popping out. Sending senior leader Nate Keil to the line, the Laker upperclassman sunk two free-throws for a 59-56 lead with 13 seconds to play.

Levi Sawatzky, Goshen's leader with 17 points Tuesday, received the handoff and released on a deep three for the tie. Misfiring, the book had been closed on the home loss.

Wohlford agreed that was the shot they were looking for on the last two possessions.

"It was," Wohlford said on if Sawatzky's shot in particular was what they drew up. "I mean maybe a little bit closer to the line, but we did it exactly right. We got him an open look at the top of the key."

Goshen's loss sent the RedHawks to 5-11 and gave Lakeland it's third straight road win to move to 13-4 on the season.

Leader scorer for the Lakers was the lone senior Keil with 24 points — 18 in the second half. Holding Keil to six first-half points after entering Tuesday averaging more than 19 points a game was Goshen senior Andre Williams.

Williams contributed well to the defensive efforts, but foul trouble for him and several of his teammates helped result in a 19-of-28 showing for Lakeland at the charity stripe. Goshen shot 11-of-13 from there to counter.

"We just needed to be there on the catch," Wohlford said of the defense of Keil. "Andre has some good length to challenge his shots. He got a lot at the free throw line."

Goshen held the halftime lead of 27-26 and had only turned the ball over four times. The RedHawks lost the ball seven times in the following half.

Goshen scoring ran as Sawatzky (17 points), Worthman (12), Williams (11), Merrill Weddell (5), Braxton Cline (4), Brock Elion (3) and Karter Marcum (2). The RedHawks shot 19-of-40 from the floor and were 5-of-16 from three-point range.

Trying to find depth this year has been a struggle at times for Goshen. With seven players scoring Tuesday night, it's a good sign for the offensive group.

"I hope so," Wohlford said if the scoring depth is a good sign tonight. "We're scoring a little bit better. We also found our offensive rhythm. Our defense is really what has been hurt the most by losing Ryan Eldridge. Teams are able to score in the paint better against us because our space eater and deterrent is gone."

Lakeland was led by Keil (24 points), Levi Cook (14), Arroyo (9), Anthony Khanchareun (7), Keegan Merrifield (6) and Kyle Hartsough (3). The Lakers shot 19-of-41 from the floor and were 4-of-13 on 3-pointers.

Goshen wraps up its Northern Lakes Conference slate this week, traveling to Syracuse to take on Wawasee this Friday.

PREP BOYS BASKETBALL

Lakeland — 6; 20; 14; 21 — 61

Goshen — 15; 12; 18; 11 — 56

JV score: Goshen def. Lakeland 53-51

Reach Matt Lucas at 574-533-2151, ext. 240325, or at matt.lucas@goshennews.com.