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Dragons win one, lose one
LO rallies in Oxford after homecourt loss

by Gabriel L. Ouzounian

December 14, 2011

6’6" senior Chaz Miller rises above the Wildcats to shoot late in the first period. Photo by G. Ouzounian
Lake Orion's boys' basketball team started its season with a pair of games against Rochester Adams and Oxford, coming away with a split.

First up was Rochester Adams on Dec. 6.Despite Lake Orion's lead at the end of the first half, the win went to the Highlanders, 59-42. Lake Orion did not go down without a fight, however, and Head Coach Tom Risi said the score was deceptively close.

"One of the Adams kids hit four three-pointers in the last four minutes of the game," said Risi. "The third quarter overall was close, but they blew it open in the fourth."

Risi added a problem the team needed work on was completing their shots. The team went three for 18 in the first half inside the paint.

Despite what Risi called "first game jitters," Adams Coach John Hall offered his own praise. He remarked on Lake Orion's performance, saying their size was a rare attribute and that the team will likely become much better as the season progresses.

The top scorers for the Dragons were sophomore John McCarty, with 15 points, senior Chaz Miller with eight points, junior Damonte Kruse with five points and senior Brad Waterworth, also with five points.

The Dragons made up for their lose with a 60-56 win against their rivals to the north - the Oxford Wildcats. Despite scoring 22 points in the fourth quarter, Oxford simply could not close the door on Lake Orion, which built a commanding lead early.

Risi called the game very physical, with 57 free throws shot between the two squads.

"Oxford is a very physical team that we had to match and we did it," said Risi. "It was a tough game. Oxford's Mark Hazelwood was an offensive machine - he's one of the best players in North Oakland County - but we put senior Justin Walukonis on him and he held him to 12 points.

"Justin not only defended him, but scored the most points for us."

Walukonis finished with 13 points for Lake Orion, followed closely by Kruse, Waterworth and McCarty, with 11 points each.

Lake Orion also played Southfield on Dec. 13 and then against Berkley on Dec. 15. Risi called Southfield a very fast and athletic team, which would be difficult to keep out of the paint.