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Lakers edge Panthers in thriller in Meredith

by Bob Martin
Sports Reporter - Gilford Steamer, WInnisquam Echo, Meredith News

Eli Swanson (13) goes up for a rebound against Moultonborough in a tight win last week. Bob Martin. (click for larger version)
January 24, 2018
MEREDITH — It was a nail biter that came down to the final minutes of play, but in the end the Inter-Lakes boys' basketball team was able to knock off Moultonborough Academy for the second time this season, 49-44.

"This is a typical Inter-Lakes/Moultonborough game," said Inter-Lakes coach Mike Rathgeber.

The game played on Jan. 16 was a rematch of a week earlier, where Inter-Lakes beat Moultonborough 55-46. This time around was much closer, and it could have been anyone's game.

It was all Inter-Lakes to start off the game, with Eli Swanson scoring eight of his 28 total points to lead the scoring charge. Jayden Lara used his size to his advantage and was able to come away with a couple buckets as well. For Moultonborough, Reese Swedberg had four points and Joe McClay had two points in what was a lopsided opening frame.

However, this all changed in the second quarter when Moultonborough outscored the Lakers 13-9 and brought the score to 22-19 in favor of Inter-Lakes at halftime. Swanson had five points but was notably less effective. Swedberg had seven points and in what was a good team effort, as there were baskets from Noah Robinson, Devin Rooney and Michael Tolman.

Moultonborough outscored Inter-Lakes in the third quarter 14-13, and the Panthers brought the game to a 33-33 tie with 1:40 left in the third quarter with a big three-pointer by Swedberg. Tommy DeTolla of gave Inter-Lakes the 35-33 lead at the end of three with a jump shot with 20 seconds left.

The fourth quarter was a tight one, with Inter-Lakes outscoring Moultonborough 14-11. Moultonborough tied the game at 35-35 with a jump shot by Rooney. Lara tried to take the lead on a layup with 7:10 left but Swedberg used his size and leaping ability to come away with a key block. This led to McClay giving MA the 37-35 lead with the layup, the first lead since Moultonborough opened the game with a basket.

After the lead exchanged hands several times, Swanson hit a long three-pointer to make it a 41-40 game in favor of the Lakers. Suddenly it became a showcase of skills between the two star players, with Swedberg hitting a layup to make it 42-41 Moultonborough. Seconds later Swanson drove and scored to give Inter-Lakes another lead.

In the final minutes of the game Swanson began covering Swedberg exclusively and this appeared to stifle his scoring output.

With 27 seconds left, after a clutch play by Swedberg to save a turnover as he dove near the stands, Inter-Lakes was up 45-42. Robinson drove to the hoop and put up a layup that rattled around the rim and out. After a timeout, Swedberg took it to the hole in traffic and hit a layup with 10 seconds remaining to make it 45-44.

Swanson was then fouled and it both free throws, followed by a layup to seal the deal and win the game, 49-44. He went off for 12 of the team's 14 points in the fourth quarter, taking matters into his own hands and securing the win.

A key to the win for Inter-Lakes was efficiency from the foul line. The Lakers were 9/13 from the line, while Moultonborough was 1/2.

"This spread from the stripe was a big difference in the game, as Moultonborough Academy had 17 field goals and Inter-Lakes had 14," said Panther coach Matt Swedberg. "Plus, Moultonborough had three three-pointers and Inter-Lakes had four three-pointers. Very close game as the score shows."

Rathgeber told his team going into the game that Swedberg and Swanson were clearly the powerhouses, and they should neutralize each other. He said this opened things up for role players to make a difference in the game.

"It was coming down to our four against their four," said Rathgeber. "And that was really what happened. I just felt like our other guys contributed just enough to get us over the hump. Typical Moultonborough game here. We know them so well."

Rathgeber said a key player was Lara for his size. He said Moultonborough really only has one big man in Swedberg, which gave Inter-Lakes the advantage since they have a couple big men. Lara finished with 10 points, eight rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Swanson finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds, two assists and two steals. He said it was great to come out and beat rival Moultonborough.

"We all know each other and play each other in other sports, or with each other, and it is pretty special to beat them," Swanson said.

Swanson said it was also fun to play against Swedberg.

"He is a great player," Swanson said. "He is very long and can make some tough shots. He would be good in any division."

Swanson said the team is playing solid but he is confident that the best has yet to come for the Lakers.

Coach Swedberg was proud of the play of his team, but added that it would have been nice to come away with a win in such a tight game.

Reese Swedberg had another all-around outstanding night amid double and triple teams all night. He had 22 points, 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals. This was the ninth straight double-double, with a triple-double thrown in as well. He was 10/22 shooting on the night, including going 2/6 from three-point territory.

"He always does a good job finding the open people off the ball as well, creating opportunities for others as seen on those pair of misses late in the game," said coach Swedberg. "Showing tremendous range in his three-point ability as seen in the past few games, to go along with his shooting repertoire of drives, pull-ups, and post moves."

Other top performers for Moultonborough included Tolman with four points and three rebounds and Robinson with four points and four rebounds. McClay also had four points and four rebounds as well.

"Moultonborough Academy kids executed down the stretch in executing offense, and creating turnovers defensively, just couldn't hit some of the bigger shots," said coach Swedberg. "Both Noah Robinson and Stephen Woods had open looks from the three-point line late but the ball bounced out. Those two shots, had they gone, could have been the difference for us as they would have put us up over IL with a multiple possession lead. But, that's just part of the game. We had a few chances that just came up short. Very proud of their effort and hopefully the experience of the game situations within the whole game helps them down the stretch."

The Lakers went on to lose to Belmont on Jan. 18 by a score of 61-42. Inter-Lakes hosted Gilford on Jan. 23 and on Jan. 26 the team hosts White Mountains.

Moultonborough traveled to Groveton on Jan. 23 and then to Profile on Jan. 26.

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