By John McClanahan
The Brookhaven College mens basketball team battled the North Lake College Blazers at home Feb. 11, but was blown away, 85-68. After both teams vigorously matched each other in the first half, Brookhaven ultimately fell flat against North Lake’s defense.
“We did not finish in the paint today. That was the biggest thing that killed us,” Kevin Hurst, Brookhaven’s head basketball coach, said.
North Lake showed an early command when guard Ayo Dada sank a 3-pointer to put the Blazers up 5-2. Brookhaven stayed close behind with early attacks as Bears forward Logan Dixon bounced a shot off the backboard to narrow the Blazers’ lead 7-6. As Brookhaven played cat-and-mouse with North Lake, Bear Jordan Enloe kept his team on the Blazers’ trail and nailed a big three to cut North Lake’s lead to 12-11.
The Bears’ offense continued when guard Jeremy Ford snapped a quick pass to Enloe for another 3-pointer to put Brookhaven closer at 16-14. The Bears tried to slow North Lake down, but the Blazers offense maintained its rhythm.
With North Lake leading 24-21, Blazers head coach Tim McGraw yelled for his offense to press the Bears. The full-court press couldn’t slow the Bears’ aggression as Ford zipped a pass to Kaseen Penn Jr. for a 2-point drive and trip to the foul line. Penn turned the play into 3 points when his free throw fell through to tie the game at 24-24.
The Blazers kept the ball moving, but Brookhaven took advantage of the North Lake turnovers. After Blazer Deanthony Owens was called for travelling, Bears guard D’Andre Dudley answered with a 3-point shot to give Brookhaven their first lead of 27-24.
The Bears still could not find a solution to North Lake’s quick offense as Owens scored 2 points with a drive to the basket. A personal foul sent the Blazers’ forward to the line where he made his free throw to increase North Lake’s lead, 35-29. Brookhaven was able to keep pace with North Lake in the first half, but Dada’s 3-pointer at the buzzer highlighted the Blazers’ offensive edge.
North Lake led the Bears 46-40 at the end of the first half.
Dada opened the second half with another big three to stretch North Lake’s lead to 49-40. Even though the Blazers’ offense connected, they still continued to turn the ball over to the Bears. After an offensive foul gave Brookhaven possession, Bear J’Michael Jasper shook North Lake’s defense with a side-stepping move to the basket to set the score 55-44.
With less than 12 minutes left, the two teams exchanged 3-pointers in a backcourt battle. Dixon launched a three to shave the Blazers’ lead down, 63-50. Dada was determined to keep North Lake ahead when he made a long 3-pointer of his own. But Dixon kept attacking from a distance as he quickly matched the Blazer guard with another three to bring Brookhaven closer, 66-53. “[Logan’s] here to shoot some threes and make some baskets for us,” Joe Wilson, assistant coach, said.
As the Blazers regained their momentum, the Bears’ offense began to stall in the last 10 minutes.
Ford swiped the ball from the Blazers, but could not finish an open layup. Blazer forward Lupe Alba kept North Lake’s offense hot with a delivery to the basket, making the score 73-59. After a missed shot from Dixon, the Blazers added another 2 points with a big play from forward Dare Brazeal to raise the score 75-59.
The Bears continued hustling during the last five minutes. Enloe snatched the ball from the Blazers, but the Bears’ offense faltered once again when the sophomore charged down the court to miss a layup. “You shoot like that in the paint [and] you’re not going to win a basketball game,” Wilson said.
Despite 25 turnovers, the Blazers’ offense still outmatched the Bears as they subdued Brookhaven 85-68. The Bears sought to win for the first time in a conference game of the 2016-2017 season, but have fallen to 0-8 in the region. The Bears’ overall record slipped to 13-14.