With both teams tied for first place in the division, the winner of this game was going to have a leg up heading into the second half of the schedule.
Lakeview was able to hold off a late charge by Gull Lake and now the Spartans remain in first place.
Lakeview defeated Gull Lake, 48-44, in this Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division girls basketball contest at Lakeview on Friday.
Lakeview, at 4-1 in division play, now shares the top spot in the SMAC East with Kalamazoo Central, with each team having one loss. Gull Lake falls a game back at 3-2 in the division.
“Yeah, winning the division is a goal, but with us being young you didn’t know. I knew this team was athletic and could play some pretty good basketball, but I didn’t know we’d play this well this year. But we are and we are enjoying it,” Lakeview girls coach Don Bussler said.
At times, it looked like Lakeview was going to run away with this contest. The Spartans had double-digit leads several times in the second half, only to see Gull Lake come back.
After a steal and a fastbreak layup by Ava Cook, closely followed by a putback layup on the next possession by Emily Eldridge, Lakeview led 28-18 with 2:00 left in the third quarter.
Lakeview’s lead grew to as large as 36-23 with 5:00 remaining in the game, but Gull Lake would not go away.
With the Blue Devils making their free throws and Lakeview going cold from the line, Gull Lake came all the way back to trail by just a basket at 43-41 with :35 left in regulation.
In the fourth quarter, Gull Lake was 13-of-14 from the free throw line, while Lakeview struggled to shoot 7-of-16.
“We didn’t rebound the ball great, especially in the first half, but our free throws kept us in the game,” Gull Lake coach Mike Balcom said.
However, with Gull Lake fouling to put Lakeview on the line, Eldridge hit two free throws with :26 left to give the Spartans an edge they needed. Then Lakeview came up with a late steal that was finished off by a fastbreak layup by Eldridge to make the final total, 48-44.
“We thought it would be a battle tonight. The last few times we played Gull Lake it has come down to the end,” Bussler said. “It seems the last few times, we would get a lead on them, but we can’t pull away. They play with a resiliancy you don’t see from a lot of teams. I knew they would get back in the game, I just didn’t think they could come back from that kind of deficit.
“But the ball bounced our way at the end and we were able to hit some free throws and shots when we needed it.”
Eldridge led Lakeview with 13 points and 11 rebounds with Jessalynn Genier also grabbing 11 rebounds. Chloe McAllister, playing in her first game with Lakeview after coming in as a transfer from Marshall, had 12 points. Ava Cook chipped in with seven points for the Spartans, who go to 7-2 overall.
Gull Lake, which falls to 5-5 overall, was led by Lauren Nusbaum with 14 points.