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Trumbull supreme: Lakeview in command

By John Kovach

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

CORTLAND -- After almost 32 minutes of unrelenting and aggressive basketball, the outcome of the game came down to one final play with 13.3 seconds left.
The Lakeview High boys were holding a 64-63 lead over LaBrae, thanks to Joey Opalka-Brown's goal with 1:08 left; but the Vikings were in-bounding the ball under their own basket with hopes of scoring the game-winner.
Jason Frederick threw the ball into play to Danny Hartman, who took a close-range shot and missed, but Chuck Williams got the rebound to give the Vikings' new life.
Williams then passed the ball to Todd Rowan, who also missed from close, and Lakeview's Brent McCullough got the rebound as the final buzzer sounded to secure the win.
Final score: Lakeview 64, LaBrae 63, which snapped a first-place deadlock in the Trumbull Athletic Conference and gave the Bulldogs (15-3, 11-1) sole possession of first place, one game ahead of the Vikings (15-3, 10-2).
Almost didn't happen
Opalka-Brown's goal almost didn't materialize because Lakeview coach Larry Herrholtz was trying to call a time-out to set up the final play, but his players didn't hear his calls; and Opalka-Brown launched about a 15-footer that turned out to be the game-winning shot.
Then LaBrae's Kyle Rowan cut the margin to one by making the first foul shot but missing the second attempt with 19.8 seconds left, leaving the score at 64-63 and setting the stage for the final play.
Williams finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds to lead Lakeview, while McCullough added 11 points, Matt Nero 10 and Opalka-Brown eight; and Jimmy McHale grabbed 14 rebounds.
Jason Frederick scored 20 points and Todd Rowan 19 to spark LaBrae, while Hartman added 10.
"You can't ask for anything more than that -- two offensive rebounds and [two] good tries. We got [the ball] into the right hands," said LaBrae coach Gregg Isler of his team's final play.
The final strategy
Herrholtz said Lakeview's objective on the final play was to "box out and grab the rebound. They [LaBrae] had two opportunities." And, "All we could do was make it as hard for them to shoot as possible" -- and not foul. "Most games are won on the second shot" in that situation.
Herrholtz said it was a grueling game for both teams.
"Both teams played full-court defense. It was very physical," he said.
Isler said his team still has title hopes in the TAC.
"We have resiliency and can bounce back. We have two [TAC] games left with Girard and Liberty." But, "We need help."
Lakeview held a 38-33 halftime lead, and the Bulldogs opened the second half with three straight goals from Williams, and then went on to pad the lead to 50-40, and led by 50-42 entering final quarter.
LaBrae launches rally
But LaBrae launched its comeback with a 20-12 run -- eight of the points delivered by Todd Rowan -- to tie the score at 62-62 with 1:35 left on Hartman's 3-point goal off a steal and pass by Jason Frederick.
Then Opalka-Brown didn't hear Herrholtz call for a time-out, and launched about a 15-footer that turned out to be the game-winner as LaBrae's final two shots bounced away from a win.