Lake downs Otsego, 73-72, behind Snyder’s buzzer-beater


TONTOGANY — After trailing Otsego 38-16 with 2:24 remaining in the second quarter, Lake boys basketball kicked into gear and defeated the Knights, 73-72.

The Flyers finished the comeback on a put-back by 5-foot-9 sophomore point guard Preston Snyder at the buzzer in both teams’ Northern Buckeye Conference opener.

“I am so proud of our kids,” Lake second-year coach Luke Hickey said. “They truly believe that they are never out of the fight and that was evident tonight.”

Lake, which was 2-21 last year, including 1-13 in the NBC, has already matched last year’s win total. The Flyers open the season 2-0 while the Knights fall to 1-1.

Otsego still led by 18, 40-22 at halftime, but the Flyers scored 51 second half points.

Lake hit 11 three-point goals in the final two stanzas and scored 27 in the fourth quarter to match their NBC win total from last year.

“We finally started to make some shots,” Hickey said. “We were not disappointed with our shot selection in the first half, but they just weren’t falling for us.

“We were put on our heels a little bit in the first half and I felt we got away from our game plan — which was to dictate the game offensively and defensively with our style of play.

“We did a much better job of pressuring Otsego in the second half and creating a little bit of chaos forcing them into turnovers and tough shots. Again, we also put the ball in the basket at a much higher percentage in the second half which always helps.”

Junior shooting forward Jay Blazevich, who hit three treys in the final quarter, led the Flyers with 16 points, and senior forwards Dylan Wiley and Aaron Tobias scored 14 and 12 points, respectively.

Sophomore guard Carter Behlmer and junior guard Travis Merrill, an Otsego transfer, scored nine points apiece, junior Drew Tajblik scored six points, Snyder scored five points, and senior shooting guard David Parsons added two points for Lake.

The Flyers finished with 13 triples, incuding four each by Wiley and Blazevich, three by Behlmer and two by Merrill. The Flyers also shot 86% (12-for-14) from the free throw line.

Senior guard Owen Weaver led all scorers with 23 points for Otsego, senior forward Tanner Balusik scored 13, senior wing Jack Simpson scored 10, senior guard Cohen Feehan scored nine, junior forward Carter Lampe scored six, senior wing Owen Atkinson and junior guard Kaidyn Hutton scored four apiece, and sophomore guard Devin Silva added two points.

Hickey has six lettermen returning, and he says Wiley, Tobias, Snyder and Behlmer were his key players heading into the opener, which was a 59-52 non-league victory over Swanton (0-2).

The Flyers only had two triples in that win, but they also came back from trailing 14-11 after one quarter, outscoring the Bulldogs 19-12 in the second stanza.

Snyder led the way with 15 points, Wiley scored 12, Behlmer scored 10, Merrill had eight points, Tobias scored seven, Blazevich scored five, and Tajblik added two points.

Snyder returns after earning honorable mention All-NBC and all-district honors, averaging 4.5 assists and two steals per game a year ago. Tobias averaged 9.9 points and 6.3 rebounds and Wiley put up 6.9 points and 4.2 rebounds.

Behlmer and Snyder run the backcourt, Tobias and Wiley are on the wing, and Tobias and Tajblik work in the post. Hickey was hoping it was a formula for success, and so far it has worked.

“We will look to be the aggressor in each game that we play,” Hickey said. “Offensively, we want to impose an up-tempo attack and put the defense in conflict. Defensively, we want to create chaos with pressure and disrupt our opponents offensive flow.”

Hickey says Tobias, (sophomore) Jack Sobczak and Blazevich “re all very athletic kids who fit our system well.”

However, the Lake coach adds that just one NBC win doesn’t guarantee an NBC championship.

“Our league will be ultra-competitive,” Hickey said. “There is a lot of talent that will require us to play high level basketball each night in order to be competitive and win games.

“We feel that our depth is our biggest strength. We look to utilize that to our advantage.”

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