At halftime of their third-game guarantee against Cypress Lake at the Naples Daily News Gulfshore Shootout at Golden Gate High School on Saturday, the Naples Golden Eagles looked up at the scoreboard and saw a most welcome sight.
Naples led 44-22 at the break, a rare luxury in a season where the Golden Eagles (3-10) have been snakebitten by close losses and tight finishes. The Golden Eagles had no such problem against the Panthers, controlling the game from the opening tip in rolling to an 82-59 win.
Head coach Jamie Dockweiler wasn't there to see the blowout, as a scheduling conflict for a previous engagement caused him to miss the game. He missed his team's most complete performance, as the Golden Eagles used a 16-0 run in the first quarter to take a 26-6 advantage. Cypress Lake was no closer than 14 points the rest of the game.
"I stressed to the guys that we needed to come out with a lot of energy in this game," acting coach Joel Morris said. "From scouting them, we knew they only went seven guys deep so we put the pressure on from the beginning and got some easy scores off our defense."
Morris said the Eagles showed much more intensity throughout the game and hopes Naples may have finally found the leadership they've been looking for.
"We've been challenging our leaders to step up and take control in tight situations," Morris said. "In all those close losses, we had nobody screaming 'we need a stop' or motivating their teammates. That started to happen in this game, and we need that to continue going forward."
Zac Lavoie was one of the seniors stepping his game up, as the standout guard scored a team-high 22 points for Naples.
"You never get used to losing, and we know we're a much better team than our record shows," Lavoie said. "This game is going to give us some momentum heading into the second half of the season."
The game might have been an even better bigger blowout if not for the performance of Cypress Lake center Eric Vandelaar, who scored a game-high 25 points.
"We mixed up our defensive looks the entire game," Morris said. "We would use a 1-3-1 halfcourt trap and follow that with a 1-2-1 full-court press. We never let them get comfortable."
The Golden Eagles were able to get their backups plenty of playing time, with 10 players scoring for the winners. In addition to Lavoie's big game, center Hunter Dane and guard Steve Parliament each reached double figures, scoring 13 and 11, respectively. Dane added a team-high eight rebounds and three blocks.
"Our starters obviously played well, but it was good to get some of younger kids some playing time," Morris said. "I thought the entire team played pretty well."
Naples is off until Jan. 9, when they are back at Golden Gate High School to face the Titans.
CYPRESS LAKE 59
CYPRESS LAKE (59)
Davis 4 1-2 9; Barnes 4 4-7 13; Parsons 0 1-2 1; Reyes 3 1-5 7; Vandelaar 12 1-4 25; Duffey 2 0-0 4; Butler 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 8-20 59.
Parliament 5 0-0 11; Gubbrud 1 0-0 2; Garvie 2 0-0 4; Broselle 2 0-0 4; Butterworth 3 2-2 8; Thomas 4 0-0 8; Leach 4 0-2 8; Dane 5 3-3 13; Molina 1 0-0 2; Lavoie 10 2-2 22. Totals 37 7-9 82.
Cypress Lake 8 14 17 20 - 59
Naples 26 18 14 24 - 82
Three-pointers: Cypress Lake - Barnes. Naples - Parliament. Team fouls: Naples 19, Cypress Lake 11. Fouled out: None. Technical fouls: None.