NORTH RIDGEVILLE — In a game that switched gears more often than a mountain bike, First Baptist was able to pretty much coast past Lake Ridge 58-53 Monday in a Lake Effect Conference game.
First Baptist went six-for-six from the foul line in the final two minutes to seal the win.
The Sabres and Royals both had their moments setting the pace during the game, but it was apparent that each team had its own style it wanted to play. Setting the tone early, Lake Ridge played fast when it could and taking its time looking for the best possible shot when stuck in a half-court setting.
“We were trying to push the ball in transition,” Lake Ridge coach Alan George said. “Unfortunately for us, they were making their shots. We were trying to look for different options for our offense. Sometimes our offense goes fast and sometimes our offense goes slow.”
First Baptist (10-8, 6-6 LEC) tried to play its own style, as well, and not get caught up in the Royals’ frantic passing and aggressive transition offense. The Sabres played a much more relaxed style, leading to better ball control and a more sustainable offense.
“Once we get too fast, we start turning the ball over too much,” First Baptist coach Darren Snelling said. “We have to try and be patient and move the ball around, get the better shots. They (Lake Ridge) do a good job of trying to dictate the pace.”
Lake Ridge (1-11, 1-8) took a one-point lead into the second quarter. Royals guard Matt South helped push the pace, scoring 10 of his team-high 16 points in the first half, but First Baptist grabbed a 28-22 lead at the break.
The Sabres then took control in the third quarter, going on a 7-0 run in the first two minutes to take a 13-point lead.
First Baptist guard Peter Quick scorched the Royals from deep, connecting on four 3-pointers and scoring a game-high 19 points. The Sabres started to slow the pace and utilize more players.
“We kicked up the hustle in the second half,” First Baptist’s Ebuka Ojukwu said. “In the first half we started out lethargic. Coach gave us a talk on how we have to pick it up on defense and we took that to heart.”
After a relatively quiet first half, Ojukwu dominated the second, scoring 10 points and helping run the offense down low and at the top of the key.
“He’s definitely one a kind,” Lake Ridge coach George said. “He has the speed, he has the size, he has the strength, he has the athleticism. We have a couple players that have the speed, the size, the strength and the athleticism, but none of them meshed together like Ojuwku.”
A passive participant in the first half, Ojuwku became the initiator of the offense in the final moments.
“As a leader this year, I have to be a facilitator on the court,” Ojukwu said. “That’s getting the ball, passing it to open teammates. I’m not always looking to score. If the open man is there, I’m going to get him the ball.”
Lake Ridge attempted to rally in the fourth quarter. Will Cunningham connected on three 3-pointers, scoring all of his nine points, while Ted DeMarco also had nine points in the second half.
But it wasn’t enough.
“Today our team wasn’t hitting shots like we usually do,” South said. “Me, Austin and Ted, the usual 3-point shooters, we weren’t hitting as much. It just wasn’t a shooting day for us.”
First Baptist 58, Lake Ridge 53
FIRST BAPTIST (58): Ebuka Ojuwku 3-8-14, Carson Odle 4-2-11, Emelie Ojuwku 4-0-8, Peter Quick 5-5-19, Hunter Peck 3-0-6, Jayden Roberts 0-0-0. Totals 19-15-58.
LAKE RIDGE (53): Ryan Rosu 2-1-6, Matt South 8-0-16, Austin Bramhall 2-1-5, Will Cunningham 3-0-9, Ted DeMarco 4-4-14, Matt Harrington 1-1-3. Totals 20-7-53.
First Baptist 13 15 14 16 — 58
Lake Ridge 14 8 13 18 — 53
Three-point goals: First Baptist 5-11 (Quick 4, Odle); Lake Ridge 6-20 (Cunningham 3, DeMarco 2, Rosu). Field goals: First Baptist 19-48 (39 percent), Lake Ridge 20-43 (47 percent). Free throws: First Baptist 15-20 (75 percent), Lake Ridge 7-11 (64 percent). Total fouls: First Baptist 9, Lake Ridge 16. Turnovers: First Baptist 13, Lake Ridge 14.