Muskies Capture Final LMC Regular Season Title with 85-56 Victory Over Maranatha
Athletics - posted on 2/7/2006
WATERTOWN, Wis. - The Lakeland men's basketball team clinched the final regular season championship in Lake Michigan Conference history Tuesday night with a convincing 85-56 win at Maranatha Baptist.
It is the third LMC title in five years for the Muskies, and the first regular season league crown for Lakeland under third-year head coach Gary Grzesk.
The title gives the Muskies (19-5, 12-1 LMC) the top seed in the upcoming LMC Tournament, and assures Lakeland home-court advantage in each of its tournament games.
"This is a tribute to our guys, to how hard they work and how much time they put in, not only during the season, but in the off-season," Grzesk said. "It's not easy to become a champion, and those guys have definitely paid the price."
Down 10-8 five minutes into the game, Lakeland used a 26-4 run over the Crusaders (1-20, 0-12) in the next 10 minutes to pull away. Lakeland led 47-24 at halftime, and put the game away with a 14-3 run to open the second half.
"Offensively, I think we did a good job moving the basketball," Grzesk said. "A lot of the guys shared the basketball and made the extra pass. Defensively, we were able to force a lot of turnovers with our intensity and our ball pressure, and really that's been the key for us all year."
Senior Germayne James scored 20 points, 18 in the first half, to lead the way for Lakeland. Sophomore Kris Saiberlich and freshman Matt Rogers added 13 and 10 points, respectively.
"It means a lot," James said. "Coming into the season we were picked fourth in the conference. We knew what we were capable of doing. We took it game-by-game, and for it to come out this way, it's huge for the program."
Senior Nick Howard, who is the only Muskie who played on Lakeland's last regular season conference championship team (2002-03), finished with seven points and seven rebounds.
"This one's different from the first one," Howard said. "I was a freshman when we won the first one, and now I'm a senior, and it just shows how hard the team worked and came together."
"I'm really happy for the seniors because they put their heart and soul into the program," said Grzesk. "Hopefully the tradition that they've established will carry over to the younger guys and into the new league."
Lakeland closes out the regular season Saturday at home against Milwaukee School of Engineering at 4:15 p.m.
The Muskies open LMC Tournament play by hosting a quarterfinal game against Maranatha on Feb. 16. Lakeland won both meetings between the two teams this season.
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