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Leave it to a junior to upstage senior day.
Peter Worth bulled his way to 21 points and 10 rebounds and helped lead things on the defensive end as the Lakeland men's basketball team posted an important 70-57 Northern Athletics Conference win over Dominican Saturday at Woltzen Gymnasium.
The Muskies (12-10, 8-7 NAC), who had lost six of seven games entering this contest, celebrated the contributions of their five seniors - Danny Ehnert, Shane Grube, David Hoerres, Aaron Regal and Kris Saiberlich - before the game.
But it was Worth, a junior from Sheboygan, who helped set the tone, making 10 of 13 field goals and dishing out three assists.
"I almost feel like a senior with these guys," said Worth. "I want to see them go out on top."
At 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds, Worth was giving up plenty of size to Dominican's 6-8, 230-pound center Mike Haiduc, but that's been the story of Worth's career.
"I just try to outwork them," said Worth, who is sporting a pair of black eyes from pounding through recent practices and games. "I just give it whatever I've got."
"Before the game, Kris Saiberlich, who is getting all the accolades for the points he has scored and being maybe the best free throw shooter in our history here, says about Pete 'He's the toughest player I've ever played with,' " said Lakeland head coach Kyle Brumett.
"He's a warrior. He's not perfect, but he gets the most out of what he's got. There's never a minute when Pete Worth is on the court that I think someone is outplaying him. And it's contagious. He guarded everyone on their team tonight - from the big 6-8, 230-pound guy that was hurting us early, to the 6-foot, 170-pound shooter."
Dominican (10-11, 7-7), which beat Lakeland in overtime a week ago in Illinois, shaved the Lakeland lead to one on a pair of occasions with about five minutes to play. But a layup by Worth and a pair of 3-pointers from Grube and Regal proved to be the knockout blow.
Saiberlich had 19 points for Lakeland, hitting 6 of 11 shots and adding four assists in 34 minutes.
"Kris was really good tonight," Brumett said. "He's had some huge scoring games, but tonight he maybe had one or two bad possessions and he was out there for 34 minutes. He was outstanding."
There were plenty of reasons to win Saturday - it was senior day, Brumett's 32nd birthday and "Think Pink" day as Lakeland did its part to bring awareness to breast cancer. But the bottom line, after losing in six of their last seven games, was just getting a win.
"This was basically do or die for getting into the conference tournament," Worth said. "When they went on a run, instead of putting our heads down, we picked each other up and said 'We can do this … we've got to do this.' "
"I told the guys after our last loss 'I'm running out of rah-rah speeches,' " Brumett said. "I found a new one. During this stretch, we didn't need to be great to win any of those games, we just needed to be a little better. Tonight, we were a little better.
"There's nothing we can do about those losses. This was a big win for our program and those seniors. It keeps the guys going. I couldn't be more proud of those guys."