High school basketball: Breakout junior Cam Cerese leads Lake Park past Fenton

Give Lake Park coach Billy Pitcher credit for honesty.

His first words after the Lancers knocked off Fenton 45-33 on Saturday were: ‘‘That’s probably why people want the shot clock.’’

For three quarters, it was a solid game between two evenly matched teams. But Pitcher changed things up in the fourth quarter by using a spread offense to run down the clock and hold on to an 11-point lead.

‘‘We blew a 21-point lead [Friday] against Batavia, so we were extra-cautious,’’ Pitcher said.

It worked. Lake Park (15-8) made good decisions and saw the game out. It’s easy to see why killing the clock is so enticing for coaches.

‘‘Our job is to win the game,’’ Pitcher said. ‘‘We forced a couple of shots [Friday] and let Batavia back in the game. We were not going to do that tonight.’’

Lancers junior Cam Cerese has been one of the breakout players of the season, averaging 23 points. He had 14 points and five rebounds against Fenton.

‘‘I did not see [Cerese’s] breakout coming at all,’’ Pitcher said. ‘‘There is always a guy that surprises you every year, but it is usually a sixth or seventh man.’’

Cerese said it was simply hard work that led to his improvement.

‘‘I was up at 5 a.m. every day in the summer, working as hard as I could,’’ Cerese said Saturday. ‘‘It’s definitely been rewarding to see it pay off this season.’’

Cerese said he’s definitely ready for the shot clock, which the IHSA has approved for use in shootouts and tournaments. It’s expected to be another few years before it is in place for every game.

‘‘It really sucks when you are down and you have to watch the other team kind of do what we did tonight,’’ Cerese said.

Lake Park led 18-10 after one quarter and never trailed. Fenton scored the first seven points of the second quarter to cut the lead to one but never mounted another significant threat. 

Junior Dennasio LaGioia led the Lancers with 16 points, and 6-5 junior Tommy Rochford added 10 points and 10 rebounds. 

Junior Alejandro Diaz led Fenton with 15 points and Caleb Lewis added 10. The Bison (18-7) are having one of the best seasons in school history. 

Fenton never has won a sectional and has won only two regionals, in 1976 and 2011. The Bison’s 18 victories this season are already good enough for third-best in school history. They won 21 games in 1976 and 2020. 

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