McHENRY – In the middle of the third quarter Tuesday, McHenry forward Damian Zalewski converted a transition layup off a pass from teammate Greg Johnson to seemingly spark the comeback the Warriors needed in their nonconference boys basketball game against Lake Park.
Zalewski’s teammates on the bench crowed over the bucket – the Warriors’ first two-point field goal since the end of the first quarter. It looked like the end of McHenry’s reliance on the 3-point shot and a breakdown in the Lancers’ defense that had all but kept McHenry’s offense relatively quiet.
Instead of the turning point it could have been, the moment was fleeting.
Lake Park, the best team McHenry coach Tim Paddock said his Warriors would see early this season, rolled out a nine-point run and never looked back en route to its 57-33 victory.
“They were quick and strong to the ball and took us out of everything we wanted to do offensively,” Paddock said. “We didn’t do a very good job of countering. That’s why I wanted to play a good team like this early, because it will help us down the stretch. They’re not going to give you anything easy.”
In the first half, Lake Park did give McHenry (1-3) plenty of room to work behind the arc and the Warriors capitalized. All of the Warriors’ field goals, save a short jumper from freshman guard Nick Bellich with 32 seconds left in the first quarter, were 3-pointers. Johnson, Bellich and senior guard Shane Varvil all hit 3s in the first quarter, and Zalewski connected twice in the second quarter to trim McHenry’s deficit to 29-17 at halftime.
“I thought we were going to stay in it,” said Zalewski, whose bucket in the third quarter cut the Warriors’ deficit to 33-22. He finished with a team-high eight points. “But we struggled with turnovers.”
McHenry coughed up the ball 12 times in the first half, but limited its turnovers to five in the second. As their ball control improved, though, the Warriors’ shooting began to haunt them. McHenry went 5 for 20 (25 percent) from the field in the second half and struggled to rebound against a Lake Park team with a significant size advantage.
The Lancers (4-1) played an unrelenting man-to-man defense and countered every shot the Warriors took, when they had opportunities.
While McHenry hustled off screens, Lake Park’s players moved faster and forced the Warriors into shots, especially down the stretch.
“We tried to back cut and get some ball movement, but no one really used their screens, so we got stuck on offense,” said senior guard Korey Partenheimer, who finished with seven points. “Every single time we tried to screen someone, they’d go help with it or screen someone so there was really no one to screen. It was hard.”