It was standing-room only for Friday’s boys basketball game between Lodi and Tokay at The Jungle, but Lodi ran the Tigers out of the building.
Marcell Roberts and the Flames leaped out to a fast start in the first quarter of the Tri-City Athletic Conference game for a 54-27 win to wrap up the first round of league action.
Lodi (2-4 in the TCAL, 10-12) broke a 2-2 tie in the opening quarter when forward Nathan Shoup hit an outside shot to make it 4-2. Then Roberts, a forward, single-handily, took charge for the rest of the quarter; he scored six of the Flames’ next 15 points, driving the middle of the lane for his baskets. Roberts also pulled down six rebounds and dished out an assist to help Lodi lead 19-4 at the end of the first quarter. He finished with eight points in the quarter and a game-high 17 points.
“Our game plan was to go inside,” said Lodi coach Scott Woznick. “We had the height advantage again as most games. We just want to utilize that to our advantage, and we did.”
Roberts, along with guard Chase Shafter and forwards Colton Stout, Logan Stout and Shoup and center Matt Nickels, led the Flames’ defense to forcing Tokay (0-6 in the TCAL, 2-20) into five turnovers in the quarter.
The Flames’ dominance on defense carried into the second quarter. But the Tigers, trying to generate any type of offense when Lodi wasn’t forcing them into turnovers, found success at the free throw line; they made 8 of 10 shots. Tokay point guard Austyn Reiswig made five of those free throws. The Tigers made 10 of 15 in the game.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to do is driving hard, getting to the line and going up strong,” said Tokay coach Chris Boss. “We got to the line quite a bit tonight. It’s been awhile making large amounts of free throws go in; that was nice to see. That was a positive for us.”
Woznick added, “Defense, we were reaching a lot. We were putting them on the foul line. In the second half, we told them to stop reaching, move your feet, play good defense.”
The Tigers’ free throws accounted toward half of their points. But Lodi went into the locker room with a 34-17 lead.
Tokay rebounded for a brief time in the third quarter. The Tigers, who missed almost a half-dozen shots in the first few minutes of the quarter, were quick off the glass with four offensive boards that included two from center Anoop Singh for more opportunities.
But the Flames were lit up by the Tigers’ play, as they started making their shots at the basket. A 3-pointer from Shafter, plus baskets from Roberts, Shoup and Nickels increased the Flames’ lead to 46-23.
The fourth quarter had Woznick and Boss start with their starters still playing on the court. But halfway through the quarter, both coaches started substituting freely in the blow out.
Behind Roberts in scoring for the Flames were Shafter with seven points. Shoup and Nickels six each, Colton Stout, along with Logan Stout and Jace Haro, had four each and Andreas Pappas and Trevor Jackson three each.
Reiswig had eight points for the Tigers. Guard Mohammad Ibrahim followed with four points, Singh three, Hanza El kheidi, Daniel Penflor, Travis Brown, Adam Johnson and Michael Shoaib two each.
Entering the second half of TCAL action next week, until they meet again in the regular season finale at The Inferno on Friday, Feb. 1, both teams are on different missions.
Lodi still has an outside shot of earning a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth. According to the section’s website — cifsjs.org — the TCAL is sending three schools. The Flames have not been to the playoffs since the 2015-16 season.
“First thing is get wins,” said Woznick, whose Flames beat West and barely lost to Lincoln by an 80-72 on Wednesday. “We were in a lot of the games for two and half, three quarters and just didn’t finish well. We’ve got to finish possessions and finish games and just come together as a team.”
Tokay, according to Boss, is hoping to put together solid games from start to finish that could generate closer games — with visions of a win or more.
“It’s tough when you’re down and keep getting kicked in the gut,” Boss said. “We just want to get better every day. We want to take that next step in getting better and how to handle fundamental teams.”
Lodi hosts Tracy to start the second round of league action next Wednesday. Tokay will host St. Mary’s, also next Wednesday.
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.