Vazquez, Hoskins lead Lake to 66-62 upset over CR

FELTON – In front of a sold-out crowd packed inside Lake Forest High’s gymnasium Friday night, the Spartans varsity basketball squad pulled off a 66-62 upset of the Caesar Rodney Riders.

Trailing by as many as nine points in the first half, Lake Forest continued to battle back throughout the 32 minutes of play.

A key three-point shot from sophomore Jaysem Vazquez with 3:51 to play put Lake ahead by five points, 61-56, and was enough to finish strong and seal the victory.

“Our coaches just put us in a good position to win the game, and they told us what had to be done.” Vazquez said. “We just went out there and executed as a team. My teammates put me in good spots to shoot the ball, because they trust me.”

Jaysem Vazquez (left), Kaheim Roach (25) and Thomas Hoskins (23) celebrate in the fourth quarter during Lake’s 66-62 win over Caesar Rodney (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

The four-point victory marked the boys’ basketball program’s first win over CR in nearly 20 years, before many of the current Lake players were even born.

“It was a good team performance. I feel like they bought in,” head coach Michael Starkey said. “That’s the type of team that can get you in the 22-25 (turnover) range where you have no shot to win. I’m guessing we stayed under 20, and some of the turnovers it just felt like were careless stuff on our part.”

Vazquez led the way offensively, dropping a team-high 23 points. Senior Thomas Hoskins added another 17 points to the mix.

Caesar Rodney controlled the tempo early on, jumping ahead 15-6 halfway through the opening quarter. Lake would battle back, going on a 7-0 run to end the quarter. A buzzer-beating three-pointer from Vazquez would bring the Spartans to within 19-17 heading into the second quarter.

Just 55 seconds into the second quarter, another Vazquez three-point jumper put Lake ahead 20-19.

Lake continued to get Vazquez open looks from long range, with Vazquez’s third three-pointer of the game beating the buzzer at halftime to bring the Spartans to within two points, 32-30.

The third quarter featured four lead changes in the final 2:15 of game clock, with CR junior Shaft Clark earning a three-point play to regain a 47-45 lead to end the quarter.

Thomas Hoskins scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter Friday night (The Chronicle/Ben Heck).

The Spartans saved its strongest offensive quarter for last, putting up a game-high 21 points in the final eight minutes of play.

“We were trying to play in the 50s, and we kept them to 62,” coach Starkey said. “We just know once they get up to the mid-60s and 70s, they don’t lose a whole lot. Once they get that tempo they want, they’re tough. I’m proud of our boys, especially when the gym is full. It wasn’t quite as under control at times as I’d like, but they did a really good job.”

Thomas Hoskins scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, including a dunk that put Lake ahead 66-60 with 38 seconds to play.

Vazquez finished the game with five three-pointers, including the buzzer-beating three-point shots at the end of the first and second quarters and the game-sealing dagger late in the fourth quarter.

“He’s a leader. He’s always been a leader, I noticed him in eighth grade as a leader,” coach Starkey said of Vazquez. “He’s got the heart of a lion. These guys tend to play off his energy, and sometimes that energy can cross over and we have to bring it back. He loves that stage, he’s never afraid. Usually, you have to wait until senior year for them to want to take that shot, he’s always wanted to take that shot.”

“We’ve had a lot of good practices lately, coach has been going real hard at us,” senior Isaiah Morris, who put up 10 points in the win, said. “Talking was a big thing we had to get better at, we know we picked it up tonight and was talking better on defense.”

Though it’s the team’s biggest win of the season, and it’s the “signature win” coach Starkey and his squad have been looking for this season, they know they will need to keep up the energy as they hit the final eight games of the season.

Next up for the 8-4 Spartans: a road game at Laurel Tuesday, Jan. 30 (5:45 p.m. tip-off) and a home game against Seaford Thursday, Feb. 1 (6:15 p.m. tip-off).

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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