By Jim Flick
The Lakeview High School boys basketball team started its season and their coach’s career by defeating Maplewood, 58-28, on Saturday night.
“We were concerned coming in about the intensity,” said Bulldogs coach Craig Mild. “Our seniors stepped up tonight and played an awesome game.”
Junior Jake Pischotti led Lakeview with 14 points and senior Brandon Bensing scored 13, including nine in the first half as the Bulldogs built an early lead. Senior Tom Bell contributed 10 points, including eight in the second half.
The game was Mild’s first game on the Bulldogs’ coach, and he admitted he was a little nervous.
“I want them to play hard because that’s a reflection of what I am,” Mild said. “I believe in playing hard and that’s what they did tonight. I’m proud of them.”
The Bulldogs played hard from the opening tip-off, leading 9-0 before Maplewood scored with about two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Lakeview built a double-digit lead, 28-18, by halftime and made it 44-28 after three quarters.
The Bulldogs held the Rockets scoreless in the final quarter while scoring 14 points with most of the starters on the bench.
Mild said the fourth-quarter shutout is testament to his team’s commitment to defense.
“We played team defense, and that’s what we emphasize here,” he said. “We’ll build on that. That’s what’s going to make this a successful program.”
“Ball rotation,” was the key to team success, Pischotti said.
“We pass the ball really well and we played lock-down defense,” he said.
“We just played good team offense, passing the ball around,” Bensing said. “Everyone was getting good shots. Basically, we were crashing the offensive rebounds like crazy, playing team offense.”
Kevin Jones and Ethan Obradovich led the Rockets with eight points each.
“We made too many mistakes,” Maplewood coach Nathan Kish said. “Lakeview’s a good team. They’re big, they’re strong, they’re physical.
“You have to come ready to play. If you don’t, it could be a long night, and that’s what it was.”
The Rockets opened their season Friday night, defeating Southington 68-60, but Kish said “definitely would not” blame team fatigue for the loss to Lakeview.