By Jeff Odom
Laker/Lutz News Correspondent
The Academy at the Lakes boys basketball team couldn’t overcome early offensive miscues as the Wildcats fell to Cambridge Christian, 43-34 in the Class 2A-District 8 title game on Feb. 11.
Still, Wildcats coach Tom Haslam said his team played tough in solidifying the first postseason appearance in program history.
“If you would have told me at the beginning of November that we could be a district runner-up and go play a road game for a regional game, being one of 32 teams left in the state, I’d say I’ll take it,” Tom said.
After the two teams combined for eight points in the first quarter, the Lancers (21-4) began to set the offensive pace after the academy (15-8) missed a pair of open 3-point attempts.
Cambridge’s Phillip Johnson knocked down a long 3-pointer to give his team early momentum.
The Wildcats tried to answer with outside shooting, but many were well off the mark. Tom said the game plan was to focus on perimeter shooting because of the Lancers’ size advantage and defensive awareness.
“We’re not very good at going in there and getting tight, going at those guys and going up over the top,” Tom said. He then added, “We didn’t think we could pound them inside.”
With his team down six midway through the third quarter, academy’s Ethan Haslam found a rebound off of a wide 3-point attempt from teammate Jarrett Harvey and slammed it home for two of his 13 points to get the Wildcats within four.
That’s the closest it would get, as Cambridge pulled away heading into the final period.
“Our kids will get over this real quick, we’re still real proud of what we did,” Tom said. He then added, “We got our meat and potatoes, but this would have been gravy to win the title. … We’re young, we only have two seniors, so the future looks really bright.”