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La Salle-Peru junior Noah Lamboley (No. 30) drives to the basket as Ottawa’s J.D. Bryant defends Friday during the Cavaliers’ 65-55 victory in a Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division game in La Salle. Lamboley finished with a career-high 32 points, while Bryant scored a team-best 17 points. NewsTribune photo/Genna Ord
With 1:13 left in the first half Friday night, the fire alarm went off at La Salle-Peru Township High School.
The L-P student section quickly started chanting, “We’re on fire. We’re on fire.”
It turned out to be an accident alarm pull that caused the building to be evacuated and the game delayed nine minutes, but it didn’t change the fact the L-P students were right.
The Cavaliers were on fire, especially Noah Lamboley.
The junior guard lit up the Pirates for a game-high and career-high 32 points to lead L-P to a 65-55 victory before a capacity crowd in La Salle.
“I was hot,” said Lamboley, who was 11-of-21 from the floor, including 6-of-10 from 3-point range. “My teammates kept giving me the ball and I was just putting it in. If it wasn’t for them, it would have never happened. It’s a team game. I kept playing within the team. I had open shots, so I took them.”
The victory secured the Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division title for the Cavs, who improved to 15-9 overall and 9-0 in the conference with one game left Friday at Sterling.
The Pirates, meanwhile, missed their shot to tie for the conference crown as they fell to 20-5 overall and 7-2 in the NIB 12 West with both losses coming to L-P.
“I thought we played phenomenal,” L-P coach Jim Cherveny said. “This is a group of kids who are hard workers. They’re determined and we set our goals high. Conference championships aren’t easy to come by. All the hard work paid off.”
The Pirates jumped on L-P early as they took a 7-3 lead on a steal and layup by Chase Hill with 5:02 left in the first quarter, but the Cavs worked back into the game and scored the final 11 points of the quarter to take a 14-7 advantage into the second.
“I think we just kept our composure. That’s the biggest thing,” Cherveny said. “We didn’t get down mentally because we were down score-wise. We just stayed within ourselves. We worked out offense. Noah had a great game for us tonight. Jens (Soderholm) had a great game. I really thought everybody played outstanding. Overall, it was a pretty good game by the Cavaliers.”
The Cavs relied heavily on Lamboley and Soderholm in the second quarter. L-P’s one-two punch scored all 20 of the team’s points in the quarter as the Cavs took a 34-25 halftime lead.
Lamboley drained three 3-pointers — including treys that gave L-P double-digit leads at 17-7 and 31-21 — and scored 15 points in the quarter, while Soderholm added five points, including a pair of free throws to make it 33-23 after the fire alarm.
The Cavs led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and led by at least eight points until Ottawa started an 8-1 run on a three-point play by Jacob Draper with 2:45 left in the game.
A 3-pointer by J.D. Bryant pulled the Pirates within three at 57-54 with 1:23 left, but Lamboley made a jumper on L-P’s next possession and Soderholm and senior Bret Storm combined to go 6-of-6 from the free throw line in the final 52.7 seconds.
“You have to be good to go on the road and get a win, and we got ourselves a double-digit hole we dug in the first half,” Ottawa coach Mark Cooper said. “Lamboley was a really tough cover for us most of the night. We clawed back in the game and got it back within three, and they make a shot, we miss one and some free throws ended it. We battled and put ourselves back in position, but L-P was a little bit better tonight.”
Soderholm finished with 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds, which helped the Cavs to a 43-34 rebounding advantage.
Bryant led Ottawa with 17 points, Carroll finished with 14 and Hill added 11.
“They got some extra possessions due to offensive rebounding,” Cooper said. “We have to rebound better, and offensively the ball has to go inside more if we are going to have success. We were too perimeter-oriented tonight.”
Notes: L-P and Ottawa are likely to meet again in a Class 3A Rock Falls Regional semifinal. The No. 2-seeded Pirates have a bye to the semifinals and will play the winner of No. 3-seeded L-P vs. No. 5-seeded Dixon. … The L-P sophomore team won 67-39 to also wrap up the NIB 12 West Division title. Ben Bejster and Erik Milaicki each scored 13 points for L-P (18-4, 8-1 NIB 12 West), while Luke Dresbach and Kyle Quick each added 11 points. Kenny Brent had a game-high 15 points for Ottawa (19-5, 6-3).
Kevin Chlum can be reached at 220-6939, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_SportsEditor.
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