Vazquez shines as Lake Forest boys shock CR 66-62

Lake Forest’s Jene Sample shoots against CR’s William Burke in the second quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

FELTON — Jaysem Vazquez slowed down, took one more dribble and stepped into his shooting motion.

He was taking another deep three, but compared to what he had done earlier in the game, this shot seemed easy.

Vazquez buried the three-pointer to give Lake Forest its largest lead of the game with 3:51 left.

It was one of many clutch shots for the sophomore, who had 23 points as the Spartans upset Caesar Rodney High 66-62 in front of a sold-out home crowd on Friday night. Lake Forest improved 8-4 overall while CR dropped to 9-3.

“I was feeling it,” Vazquez said. “I was just confidence. My team was putting me in good positions. The fans brought a lot of energy and we love that.”

It was the first time Lake Forest defeated Caesar Rodney in boys’ basketball since Jan. 15, 1999. The Spartans went on to reach the state title game that season.

CR’s Davione Robinson completes a high flying jump shot over Lake Forest in the first quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

While this current crop of players weren’t even born then, they talked about Friday night being a statement win.

“I think they believed we’re a good team but at some point you got to go out and prove it,” said Lake coach Mike Starkey. “We call it a signature win and we just needed one. We haven’t had one up to this point.”

Lake Forest did not lead in the second half until the 6:10 mark of the fourth quarter when freshman Kaheim Roach scored a tough layup through traffic.
Thomas Hoskins netted the next five points for the Spartans while CR kept pace to make it a 58-56 game.

That’s when Vazquez pulled up as he found himself open on a fastbreak. He swished his fifth three-pointer of the contest for a 61-56 advantage.

The closest CR got was 62-60 until Lake’s Isaiah Morris grabbed a loose rebound near the foul line and took a dribble for an open layup. Hoskins sealed it with a one-handed slam, his second such dunk of the night, off a turnover.

Lake Forest’s Isaiah Morris shoots against CR in the second quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

“We already had an idea of how good we can be but we never played to our potential,” Vazquez said. “Tonight, we put it together, we came out and executed. We played hard and it shows how we can play as a team.”

Vazquez showed off a flair for the dramatic in the first half.

During an 11-0 Spartan run he drained a three-pointer a few steps from the halfcourt line as the horn sounded to end the first quarter. He made another buzzer-beater at the halftime break, this time from the right corner to cut the Rider lead to 32-30.

“Jaysem turned himself into a shooter tonight,” Starkey said. “He’s got the heart of a lion. These guys play off his energy. I love the dude. He loves this stage. He’s not afraid. Usually you got to wait until their senior year for them to take that shot, but he wants it.”

CR’s Davione Robinson was the game’s top scorer with 24 points. Shaft Clark followed with 23 for the Riders.

CR’s Jeremiah Brown battles Lake Forest’s Thomas Hoskins under the basket in the second quarter. Delaware State News/Marc Clery

Hoskins finished with 17 for Lake Forest while Morris was also in double figures with 10 points. Roach chipped in nine points.

The win was also Lake Forest’s first against a Henlopen Conference Northern Division opponent since Jan. 28, 2011 when it edged Smyrna in overtime.

Considering the significance of the victory, Starkey warned his team about staying focused on the rest of the season before his players left for the weekend.

“I challenged them to come back to practice Sunday night and not big-time me,” Starkey said. “It’s just one game. We need to get right back to work. These guys haven’t been in these spots. Sometimes a good wave is just as tricky to navigate as a bad wave. We’ll see how mature they are, if they can enjoy it this weekend and come back to work.”

Reach staff writer Tim Mastro at tmastro@newszap.com

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