YORKTOWN, N.Y. - Lakeland’s Jack Kruse and Augie Karaqi were both on fire, as the junior duo led the Hornets boys basketball squad to a 81-71 victory and season-sweep of crosstown rival Yorktown on Jan. 24.
“We came out, had a great first quarter,” Lakeland coach Steve Fallo said. “We were knocking down threes, that’s our game, the perimeter game. And Jack and Augie put on an offensive show, they really did. Both of them had 27 points. Besides that, nice to have Jack back, we know Jack can shoot. Augie’s been doing it all year for us with Jack out. It was nice having them both on the floor, shooting the ball.”
For Kruse, it was his third game back after an injury.
Sign Up for E-News
“It feels good because we have a rivalry with them, every game beating them feels good,” Kruse said. “So it’s good to just come out here and win, especially for me, since I didn’t play great the last two games.”
Karaqi and the rest of the Hornets were glad to have Kruse back in the lineup.
“It’s great, he’s another great shooter on the team and he’s able to penetrate to the rim which draws attention and leaves other shooters open,” Karaqi said.
Host Lakeland jumped out to a 30-14 first-quarter lead, led by 12 points from Kruse, all on threes, and eight from Karaqi, including two 3-pointers.
“In the beginning of the season, we weren’t always starting the first quarter off well but we came in here first quarter, we told ourselves we have to come out in the first quarter strong, we were confident and we did that,” Karaqi said.
Yorktown coach Mark Pavella acknowledged his team’s opening-quarter struggles but was proud of the way they bounced back.
“First quarter, we struggled to guard the 3-point line,” Pavella said. “After that our team settled in and played harder on the defensive end. The kids didn’t give up and played till the end.”
The Huskers played better after the first quarter, outscoring the Hornets 37-34 in the second and third quarters combined.
“We started off the game really slow but coach talked to us at halftime and he just said to keep fighting,” Yorktown’s Joe Sgobbo said. “At the end of the second quarter, we cut it to 14 and then in the second half we came out with a lot of energy which allowed us to get a lot of baskets.”
Sgobbo tallied a team-high 22 points and right behind him was teammate Ben Schumer with 20 points.
“The team wanted to keep feeding him,” Sgobbo said of Schumer. “Once he gets hot, he’s an awesome shooter. So, trying to set screens for him, get open looks and just give him the ball as much as we can.”
Karaqi in the beginning of the fourth quarter put Lakeland up 66-54 with a field goal.
“He’s doing that every game,” Kruse said of Karaqi. “He takes some shots, they fall a lot. He’s been hot since the beginning of the season.”
Yorktown (4-9) cut the Lakeland to four, 75-71, on a hoop by Sgobbo, before the Hornets scored the last six points of the game.
“As a team, we wanted to stay focused, and not get ahead of ourselves, try to apply pressure, force a turnover to get a basket but unfortunately we didn’t,” Sgobbo said.
Lakeland’s Joe Vetrano (13 points), Rob Nardelli (10 points), Mike Arcure (2 points) and Jeff Owusu (2 points) and Yorktown’s Roni Brucaj (8 points), Brandon Carter (8 points), Tommy Weaver (7 points), Anthony Ortiz (4 points) and Chris Martz (2 points) all got into the box score.
Lakeland (8-6) also hosted Horace Greeley on Jan. 22, falling to the Quakers 84-55, with the Hornets led by Vetrano (17 points), Kruse (9 points) and Marc Cummins (9 points).