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Highway 5 Showdown: Camdenton boys basketball unable to complete comeback bid against Lebanon

Michael Losch
Lake Sun Leader
Camdenton senior Zack Walz drives to the basket in an Ozark Conference game against Lebanon on Tuesday, January 12, in Camdenton. Walz finished the night with 11 points for the Lakers.

Camdenton faced an uphill battle from the start Tuesday night in its Ozark Conference battle with Lebanon. 

The Lakers did not hit their first field goal until the final minute of the first quarter, trailed the Yellowjackets by as many as 18 points and faced a simple choice- cash in or fight back. 

Camdenton chose to fight. 

After the visiting Yellowjackets hit a 3-pointer to start the third quarter with a 16-point lead, the Lakers held the Yellowjackets scoreless the remainder of the quarter and scored 14 unanswered points to cut the gap to two points by the start of the fourth. After tying the game at 38 with just under six minutes remaining, the Lakers could not find a way to get over the hump in a 51-47 loss to their rivals down Highway 5.

“Honestly, that was the way we were supposed to play defense from the start and we didn’t,” Camdenton coach Craig Campbell said of his team’s efforts in the second half. “We came out flat, which I was worried about, and that is one of those things I have to do a better job as a coach to get them prepared for that. In the second half we came out, got after them and played the way I wanted to play. Just never could get over the hump and we had some errors in the final two or three minutes of the game that just cost us. We couldn’t finish it.” 

A valiant effort, though, considering how things started. 

Camdenton faced a zone defense from Lebanon that took some time to figure out as the Lakers started cold offensively, being held to a single point for about seven minutes while the Yellowjackets went on a 9-0 run to build an 11-3 lead to finish out the first quarter. Another 11-2 run in the second quarter helped the margin grow to as high as 18 points in the second.

“The biggest thing is they just have to trust themselves and trust what we are trying to get them to do,” Campbell said of the offensive struggles, noting how important it was to move the ball against the zone, get the ball in the paint as often as possible and not simply stand around. “First quarter, that is what they did and the zone reminded me a lot of the Marshfield game. We stood around against the zone and let it do what it is supposed to instead of attacking it.”

Camdenton’s fortunes started to change in the second half and it was aided by the defensive effort as the Lakers forced eight of Lebanon’s 19 total turnovers in the third quarter alone. As the gap continued to narrow, there was simply a sense of more energy in the gym whether it was from the home crowd or the Lakers’ bench. 

“They just decided to be aggressive on defense. They just decided to get after them and when we started getting after them we turned them over and they realized this is actually working,” Campbell stated. “Sometimes, they just have to see it themselves to make it click and that was the deciding point. There were a few rotations we missed in the third and fourth that cost us from taking the lead and we get those figured out, it is probably a different ballgame at the end.” 

After tying the game at 38 in the fourth, a pair of missed Laker free throws turned into a 3-point play for Lebanon on the other end of the floor and the Yellowjackets never relinquished the rest of the way, making free throws or other key shots to help build a 7-point lead with 2:15 remaining. 

Camdenton sophomore Kam Durnin made a 3-point play of his own after getting fouled on a shot to cut the gap back to four points, but the Lakers could not get any closer than a 3-point gap with 20 seconds remaining before the visitors eventually closed the deal. Camdenton had 11 total turnovers Tuesday night and four of them took place in both the first and fourth quarters each.

“Missed layups, turnovers and offensive rebounds by them- we take those away and it could be a different ballgame. Those are the errors that some show up on the stat sheet and some don’t,” Campbell pointed out. “Those are the things teams have to do to win ballgames and so far this year, we have not been able to complete those at the end of a game.”

Camdenton senior Joel Mason led the Lakers with 12 points, senior Zack Walz finished with 11 and senior Tony Glynn knocked down 10 while both Durnin and fellow sophomore Aaron Poage put up six points each. 

Camdenton (2-10, 0-2 Ozark Conference) will visit Bolivar on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. Campbell is expecting another tough test for his group.

“Bolivar is a good team. Their record is probably not indicative of what they actually are,” he said. “They have played some good competition, lost a couple tight ones and it is a game we can win, but we are going to have to play a lot better than we did tonight to have a chance. It will be a good test for us and any time you go on the road it is tough. Bolivar is one of those places and it is really hard to play there. We’ll see how tough we are.”

Michael Losch is the Sports Editor at the Lake Sun. He can be reached at mlosch@lakesunonline.com or 573-346-2132