LODI — The Lodi boys basketball team had a number of kinks to work out in Monday night’s season opener against Portage.
The Blue Devils didn’t lead in the first half but when they got ahead in the second half, they didn’t look back, earning a 61-48 non-conference win over the Warriors at Lodi High School.
“Overall we’re happy,” Lodi coach Mitch Hauser said. “The first game, you don’t know what you’re going to get. It’s like a box of chocolates. But the boys gave a good account of themselves tonight.”
Lodi (1-0) found itself down by as many as six in the first half, trailing 12-6 with 11 minutes remaining in the opening half following a 2-pointer by Portage senior Nick Anderson. The Blue Devils battled back, however, trading punches throughout the remainder of the first to send the game tied at 27 into the break.
Out of the intermission, Lodi quickly got on top following a three-point play by senior Casey Breunig, taking a 30-27 lead with 17:15 remaining. Portage senior Craig Steele was the guilty party on the bucket and picked up another quick foul, his third, at the 17-minute mark and quickly exited.
With their leading scorer on the bench, the Warriors offense wasn’t the same as the Blue Devils lead grew to 34-27 following a layup by senior Dominic Scola with 13:28 left to play.
“It was somewhat of a steady decline and it definitely hurt when we lost Craig for a few minutes, but that’s an opportunity for somebody else to step up,” Portage coach Ron Olson said. “It’s about being together as a team, having each other’s back and when somebody goes down, we need to step up and help our teammates.”
The Warriors (1-3) looked get back into things, cutting the deficit to 36-32 with 11:20 left following a Steele 3-pointer, but Lodi quickly responded. Junior Jackson Furniss answered Steele’s 3-pointer with a triple of his own and added another off a Portage turnover to extend Lodi’s advantage to double digits at 42-32 with 9:50 left to play.
Steele, who led the Warriors with 17 points, got the deficit back down to single digits at 43-35 with 7:41 remaining, but Lodi answered again. Junior Cole Steinhoff and senior Canyon Bacon combined for a 6-0 run, including four free throws by Bacon and a fast-break layup by Steinhoff, to take a 49-35 lead with 5:30 left.
Portage continued to fight, cutting the Lodi lead back down to eight at 49-41 following six straight points from senior Erik Isakson, but the team didn’t get any closer. The Blue Devils extended the lead back to double digits with a Bacon bucket and were able to salt the game away at the line.
Foul trouble was a constant factor in the game, especially in the second half. The Warriors committed 23 fouls in the game, including 17 in the second half alone, resulting in 21 shots at the charity stripe for the Blue Devils. Hurting Portage’s cause was its inability to score as the Warriors had just seven field goals in the final 18 minutes.
“I’m disappointed with how we executed tonight; I just didn’t think we were really efficient really on both sides of the basketball,” Olson said. “We needed to just go out there and play, feed off each other, get some energy and work together as a team. We just didn’t do that tonight.”
Bacon was the main beneficiary of the Warriors’ foul troubles, hitting nine of 12 foul shots en route to 17 points, while Kolinski added 15. Isakson and junior Eli Considine had 11 points for Portage while Anderson added nine. The Warriors only had four players score.
“Nick’s been bringing it,” Olson said. “He’s a smart kid, plays with a lot of energy and I’m really pleased with his play. We just have to get a few more guys to step up, bring that energy and contribute.”
Hauser was pleased with the Blue Devils’ ability to adjust, but knows there is room for improvement.
“We’re just still early in the process,” he said. “There’s a lot of room for growth and it’s really just about focusing on the little things. If we focus on the little things, the big things will come.”
LODI 61, PORTAGE 48
Portage 27 21 — 48
Lodi 27 34 — 61
PORTAGE — Considine 5 0-1 11, Steele 4 5-8 17, Isakson 4 3-4 11, Anderson 3 3-4 9. Totals 16 11-17 48.
LODI — Bacon 4 9-12 17, Breunig 1 1-1 3, Kolinski 6 0-1 15, Scola 1 0-0 2, Breunig 1 0-0 2, Furniss 3 0-0 9, Persike 0 8-9 8, Steinhoff 2 1-5 5. Totals 18 19-28 61.
3-point goals — POR 5 (Considine 1, Steele 4), L 6 (Kolinski 3, Furniss 3). Total fouls — POR 23, L 17. Fouled out — POR (Isakson), L (Kolinski).