The Vikings topped Lakeview to stay tied for second place in the TAC.
By DOUG CHAPIN
LEAVITTSBURG -- John Klingensmith scored 19 points and two other Vikings came off the bench to score in double figures, as LaBrae stopped Lakeview 60-47 Tuesday to stay in the thick of the Trumbull Athletic Conference race.
Maurice Hightower added 16 points and Tim Littell, as the Vikings (11-3, 8-2) kept close to leader Newton Falls (9-2) and tied with Badger (8-2) in second place atop the league standings.
"We have eight guys who can step up on any given night and get the points for us," LaBrae coach Gregg Isler said. "It's really fun to coach these guys."
Scoring balance: LaBrae's balance was evident early as seven of the eight Vikings who played scored on the way to a 16-9 first quarter lead. Klingensmith then scored 10 points in the second quarter and Littell added six as the Vikings increased their advantage to 36-19 at halftime.
"LaBrae plays great basketball," Lakeview coach Larry Herrholtz said. "They've got eight guys who can score. You've got to give them credit, it was an excellent performance."
Numbers tell part of the story of the Vikings' win.
Fourteen of LaBrae's 23 baskets were assisted. Brett Briscoe and Tony Watkins led the way with four assists each. LaBrae held a 27-16 rebounding edge as Watkins and Klingensmith grabbed five missed shots each. The Vikings shot 50 percent on both two-pointers (17-of-34) and 3-pointers (6-of-12).
Defense: In one area, though, the numbers don't tell the entire story. LaBrae's pressure defense resulted in 11 steals but just five Lakeview turnovers. The Bulldogs recorded 13 steals themselves and forced 11 Viking turnovers.
But LaBrae's pressure was effective. The Bulldogs took care of the ball for the most part but were unable to get into any consistent offensive flow and shot just 15-of-46 from the field.
"We come out and try to play as hard as we can with our pressure," Isler said. "We have to force some stuff. We're not that big."
"The teams that have beaten LaBrae have handled the pressure defense," Herrholtz said. "Tonight, we couldn't handle it."
Leaders: The Bulldogs (8-6, 7-4) were led by Brian Rigby with 14 points, Matt Nero with 13 and Brandon Bakker with 10. Phil Butch dished out five assists.
LaBrae's lead was as large as 22 points late in the third quarter, but Lakeview closed to within 10 on two occasions in the final frame.
"Their pressure bothered us," Isler said. "You don't find yourself ahead by a lot very often in this league. Lakeview played good basketball and made a nice run."
On Friday, LaBrae visits Liberty, a place where the Vikings haven't won for the last three years.
"There are no off nights," Isler said. "That's the great thing about playing in this league."