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LAND O’LAKES — A relentless defense that limited Lake Gibson to just 10 first-half points led host Land O’Lakes to a 53-30 win in Thursday’s Class 6A region quarterfinal.
The Gators (22-6) had their own offensive shortcomings, evident by a 17-10 halftime lead. But Land O’Lakes found its offense with 18 points in each of the last two quarters to pull away.
“Total team effort defensively; 10 points (allowed) in the first half,” Land O’Lakes coach Dave Puhalski said. “We’ll take that every game.”
The Gators weren’t exactly lighting up the scoreboard in the first half either, but Michael Obi helped the home team snap a tie at 10 by scoring five points and passing to Jackson Cannon for a layup and a resulting seven-point lead at the break.
Land O’Lakes exploded with 36 points in the second half that started with a 7-1 run to start the third quarter. The offense picked up, in part, due to the coach’s halftime speech.
“Actually, the speech wasn’t that good,” Puhalski said. “We gave up 20 points in the second half.”
Cannon finished with a game-high 14 points, Ernest McClendon scored 13 and Obi had nine. Obi’s brother, Victor, pulled down a game-leading 14 rebounds in the decisive win.
“We just played hard to the buzzer. That’s all we wanted to do,” Puhalski said.