No Trap for LHS at Home
LOWELL -- It was the perfect spot on the schedule for a letdown.
The Lowell High boys basketball team was coming off a grueling stretch of games that included back-to-back wins over MVC Division 1 rivals Lawrence and Central Catholic last week.
Lowell 74 BC High 49
Following Friday’s huge win over Central Catholic, Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day non-league matinee matchup against BC High had the makings of a trap game for the Red Raiders.
But there was no letup from a Lowell club that keeps building on its success.
The Red Raiders rebounded from a sluggish start by applying pressure at both ends of the court and went on to post a dominant 74-49 victory at the Riddick Field House.
Lowell improved its record to 12-1. BC High, which held a 14-13 lead at the end of the first quarter, is 4-6.
“It was kind of a weird vibe in the gym today,” said Lowell coach Bob Michalczyk. “It was just an uneasy feeling that anything could have happened. It was an odd day (of the week) and an odd time to play. There was no school. We didn’t practice (Sunday) because of the storm. I hate going into a game without a practice. But it probably did us some good to have a day off.
“We had a really tough game Friday (against Central Catholic). The guys were pretty beat up. We just went through a gauntlet of tough games. But we needed that tough stretch. If you keep playing teams you are better than, what do you get out of it?”
Lowell was leading 34-28 at halftime.
The Red Raiders broke the game open with a 15-0 run to open the second half.
Deven Okowuga, who connected on four treys in the first half, paced Lowell’s potent offense with 18 points. Okowuga threw down a dunk to open the fourth-quarter scoring for Lowell that stretched the Red Raiders’ lead to 60-35.
Nate Siow (15 points) and Carlos Nunez (12 points) were double-figure scorers for the Red Raiders. Justin Villanueva scored seven points and had a strong game on defense.
“We played good defense and we were able to create some things,” said Okowuga. “We were quicker than them. I was able to get some open looks and I was just letting the shots go. They were falling today.
“There’s really no star on this team. We have a bunch of really good players who work well together and contribute. We win as a team.”
Okowuga made some big shots in the second quarter that helped ignite Lowell’s offense. The Red Raiders’ talented senior forward, who had a couple of nice blocks on defense, scored 12 points in the opening half.
Nunez, Siow and Okowuga keyed the early second-half surge that enabled Lowell to build a 58-35 lead after three quarters.
Rashawn Settles (2 points), Tyson Kong (6 points), Daiquan Durham (5 points), Otto Okonoboh (4 points), Ritchie Etienne (3 points) and Jayson Gilkes (2 points) played well for Lowell.
“I think we’re starting to find our rhythm (offensively),” said Michalczyk. “We played a real good first half against Central, maybe our best first half of the year. And then we shot the ball pretty well today. I’d say over the next five games or so is when we really want to be clicking as a team.”
Follow Carmine Frongillo on Twitter @cwfrongi