LAFAYETTE — Really, why should it be easy?
Even with a 20-point lead going to the final eight minutes on Wednesday night at Centaurus’ Boulder Valley Invitational, it was hard not to let doubt creep in for the Erie Tigers.
Especially when you are 0-2, win No. 1 isn’t supposed to come easy.
“We knew (Standley Lake) would make a run, they’ve got some shooters,” Tigers coach Tim Leahy said. “We kind of went dead there for a little bit, nothing went right and we were turning the ball over.”
Erie watched its 20-point lead dwindle to five points before it stepped on the gas pedal down the stretch to pull away late for a 78-62 win over the Gators. Erie will play host Centaurus in the semifinals on Friday night at 8 p.m.
“We ended up finishing on a positive note,” Leahy said. “And obviously there are some things we still need to work on.”
The Tigers (1-2) used their drastic size advantage against the winless Gators (0-3) to jump out to their lead. Six-foot-4 point guard Kyle Leahy had clean looks from the perimeter to both shoot the ball and distribute to the post when necessary.
At the half, the younger Leahy already had 18 of his season-high 29 points.
“Scoring 29, that’s not really my focus, but getting the young guys involved like Cameron (McCurry) and Will (Campbell), I mean, they are big and we have to play big with that size advantage,” Kyle Leahy said. “I’ll do what I can to help the others, but if I have to score, I have to score.”
McCurry, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, finished with 17 points and Andrew Campbell (6-6) added 14.
The one advantage Standley Lake did have was in the speed department and the Gators used it to climb back early in the fourth. Speedy guard Eric Turner, who didn’t play when coach Leahy scouted the Gators last week, was constantly in the passing lanes making steals and scored eight of his 14 points during a 15-0 run to start the quarter.
But the Gators’ big shooters, Jeremy Minnick and Connor Durant, fouled out and when they did, so too did Standley Lake’s ability to score.
“We never got down after losing the first two and we knew as a team that we were pretty good,” Kyle Leahy said. “December is just about seeing where you are and improving. we are doing that. The second game improved from the first game and this game improved on the second.”
The Tigers responded to the Gators’ run with a 20-9 spurt to finish the game, getting contributions from everyone. Big free throws came from William Campbell and Alex Goodell, as did clutch baskets from Kyle Leahy, Andrew Campbell and McCurry.
“It’s a good team, it just needs to continue to be polished,” Tim Leahy said. “Even though we have some seniors, we have some inexperience, but we will come around.”
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Erie 78, Standley Lake 62
At Boulder Valley Invitational
STANDLEY LAKE (0-3)
Kellen Muller 2 0-2 4, Eric Turner 6 2-5 14, Brandon Garcia 0 0-0 0, Jeremy Minnick 7 1-1 19, Brodey Hoffman 0 0-0 0, Jaylen Williams 2 0-0 4, Connor Durant 2 11-15 17, John Voss 0 4-4 4, Ben Quinones 0 0-0 0. Totals 19 18-27 62.
Kyle Leahy 10 7-15 29, Bobby Bledsoe 0 0-0 0, Alex Goodell 2 2-2 7, Andrew Campbell 5 4-7 14, William Campbell 1 2-2 4, Josh Meyers 3 0-3 7, Cody Hartkopp 0 0-0 0, Cameron McCurry 8 1-5 17. Totals 28 16-34 78.
Score by quarters:
Standley Lake 14 12 12 24 — 62
Erie 19 20 19 20 — 78
3-point field goals — Standley Lake (6): Minnick 4, Durant 2; Erie (4): Leahy 2, Goodell, Meyers. Total fouls — Standley Lake 27; Erie 18. Fouled out — Minnick, Hoffman, Durant.