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February 08, 2012 - Free throws often make last minute differences in basketball games, as the Dragons found out last week.

Competing against OAA Blue leader Rochester on Jan. 31, Lake Orion's boys' basketball team took the Falcons to double overtime before falling, 73-67.

The fact that the Dragons reached overtime was an achievement, considering their slow start and falling behind by 16 points in the first quarter.

But the second quarter saw Lake Orion begin its slow climb back up the scoreboard. At halftime, the team was down by nine points and its aggressive play during the third quarter put the Dragons up by one.

It was a back and forth contest from there, with the game tied at multiple points until the second overtime period. Lake Orion lost its momentum and missed a number of free throws that spelled the end of an exciting game.

"It really was a nail biter - no one quit for the entire game," said Head Coach Tom Risi. "We just lost momentum and failed on too many free throws. We went one for six from the line in a second overtime. You cannot do that and win a game.

"I am very proud of how hard the kids played."

Top scorers for the game were sophomore John McCarty with 18 points, junior Chaz Miller with 17 points, sophomore Roman Kuster with 10 points and junior Damonte Kruse with eight points. Risi also noted Kruse had very few turnovers.

Defensively, the head coach was impressed with Kuster, in particular. He said the junior took a couple of charges before fouling out in the fourth quarter and, overall, had a "monster game."

The team played again on Feb. 3 against Troy Athens, soundly beating the Red Hawks 61-47. McCarty again led all scorers with 21 points, followed by senior Justin Walukonis with 16 and Miller finished with 11. Walukonis and McCarty went 11-12 and 5-6 at the free throw line, respectively. Overall, the team was 20-25 from the charity stripe.

Risi said it was not unusual for teams to foul more than usual near the end of a close game but, in the case, fouling Walukonis was a mistake given his touch at the line.

"They kept fouling him and he kept making them pay for it," the coach said, noting it was a close contest for most of the game – the Dragons only led by one at the half.

Up next for Lake Orion is Farmington on Friday, Feb. 10. The team previously faced the Falcons on the road in a close Dragon victory. Risi said the team is athletic but, if his team can slow them down, they will have good chance at winning again.

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