With the first half of regional play in the books, the Lane men’s basketball team is thick in the hunt for a playoffs spot.
The Titans’ week got off to a rough start when they traveled to Coos Bay to take on the 16-5 Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers.
Despite the play of sophomore center Zach Kirschbaum, who scored 33 points and had 15 rebounds, seven blocks and three assists, the Titans were unable to keep up with an electric Lakers offense that averages 92.43 points per-game.
Aside from Kirschbaum, the Titans struggled to get much going offensively. They shot an abysmal 14 percent from three-point land on their way to a 92-78 loss.
The Titans looked to rebound from their tough loss to the Lakers when they welcomed the Chemeketa Storm, 9-10 overall, 5-1 in conference, to Lane on Jan. 25.
After a back-and-forth first half, Lane trailed the Storm 35-33 at halftime. Sophomore guard Alex Sattley scored 16 points in the first half for the Titans to keep them in contention. Kirschbaum only played five minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble, but he immediately made his presence felt in the second half, scoring four points and blocking a shot early on.
Lane head coach Bruce Chavka decided to give Sattley and Kirschbaum a rest with the Titans trailing 56-54 with 8:30 remaining. The choice worked well, as freshman forward Daemund McCants and freshman point guard Willy Malos both scored to give the Titans the 58-56 lead with seven minutes remaining.
McCants made several key plays for the Titans in the final minute, scoring four straight points including a breakaway dunk off of a steal to put the Titans up 66-65 with 42 seconds remaining.
The Titans played solid defense on the Storm, forcing Chemeketa’s leading scorer, Bryce White, to miss a difficult jump shot. Storm guard Kevin Brazille caught the rebound, but Kirschbaum rejected his layup attempt with 3.8 seconds left in the game. The Storm were forced to foul freshman guard Dyrall Goods, who drained both free throws to seal the game and give the Titans a 68-65 victory.
Chavka said that he knew White, who leads the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges South Region with 27.16 points per game, would be a tough match-up.
“He can get his points, period,” Chavka said. “We said in the scouting report that we knew he was going to get his and we’ve got to make sure nobody else beats us.”
White was the only Chemeketa player to score in double figures.
Sattley led four Titans in double figures with 23 points and six rebounds. McCants added a double-double off the bench with 12 points and 10 rebounds. The Titans improved to 11-10 overall with a 4-3 record in regional play.
“We’re not satisfied yet. We go to wait until we get a (playoffs) spot. (We) got t keep working,” McCants said.
Lane is now tied for third in the South Region, along with Mount Hood Community College and Clackamas Community College.
The Titans will look to build on this victory, and continue their push for the playoffs, when they host Clackamas on Feb. 1.