Lakeview romped to improve to 17-0.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
CHAMPION -- Here's another reason the Lakeview High boys basketball team is unbeaten: guys like Mike Olesh.
"Mike Olesh is one of our unsung heroes," Lakeview coach Larry Herrholtz said. "Most coaches in the league know who he is, but he doesn't get a lot of press. I'll tell you what, Mike Olesh can play basketball."
The 6-foot-2 Olesh, a junior, came off the bench and scored a career-high 18 points Tuesday as the Bulldogs beat Champion 54-40 to run their record to 17-0, 13-0 in the Trumbull Athletic Conference.
"I wasn't even paying attention," said Olesh, when told after the game how many points he had scored.
Herrholtz has stressed how blessed his team is not to have a standout player. The balanced Bulldogs can attack in a variety of ways, with a variety of players. Olesh is one of them.
"Everybody steps up. Every game it's someone new," said Olesh, one of nine Lakeview players to score, but the only one in double figures. "In the boxscore, everybody is close to each other."
Olesh came up with big baskets at the most opportune times for Lakeview.
Not only did he score nine points in the second quarter to help give his team a 27-17 halftime lead, but he had two key third-quarter baskets to help fend off Champion's comeback attempt.
"We just didn't let it bother us much," Olesh said of the Golden Flashes' third-quarter burst. "I just tried to pump the guys up and get us back in it."
Closing the gap
Champion scored the first seven points of the third quarter, five of them by senior Mark Kish, to cut its deficit to 27-24.
"Mark Kish, Kevin Stingel and Josh Ozanich are some of the better players in the TAC," Herrholtz said of Champion's standouts. "We expected a run from them, and we got it."
Olesh stopped Champion's run with a baseline jumper, Lakeview's first points of the second half with 5 minutes, 15 seconds remaining in the third.
The Bulldogs weathered Champion's rally and then took command as the quarter closed. And guess who was involved?
Olesh knocked down a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left in the third and senior Brandon Bakker converted a crisp pass from senior Jeff Ellens, part of a 10-2 run that put Lakeview ahead 41-30.
Champion never threatened again.
"We got beat by a better team," Champion coach Jeff Rasile said. "They're undefeated for a reason. They have the whole game -- mental and physical."
Herrholtz maintains that his team doesn't focus on its unbeaten record, but only on its next opponent, which happens to be LaBrae on Friday in Cortland.
"We just want to win the TAC-8. That's it," Olesh said. "Everybody [else] talks about it, but we just shrug it off."
Kish scored a game-high 20 points for Champion, while Stingel added 11. Only four players scored for the Golden Flashes.
Senior Kevin Rigby had six rebounds and five assists for Lakeview, while Ellens handed out six assists.