Thanks to Bear River’s Jacob Lazor and Forest Lake Christian’s Mark Boatman, the South County’s boys basketball fans have seen more buckets than KFC.
At a little over six feet tall each, the pair don’t tend to strike the most imposing figures during the pregame warm ups.
Once the ball is tipped, however, it’s a completely different story.
The dynamic duo each have the requisite long-range skills to bust any zone, as well as the quicks to get out on the break, and the guts to finish.
Lazor, a junior post/wing, has victimized opponents to the tune of 17.8 points per game, including 40.4 percent shooting from the floor and 35.2 percent shooting behind the 3-point line.
“Jake’s the one everybody keys on when they’ve played Bear River this season,” Bear River head coach Jack McCrory said. “Last year he was strictly an outside/wing type of player, this year he’s has to be the center in the zone. He’s learned to play a lot more with his back to the basket.”
Boatman, a senior wing/forward, has posted some gaudy numbers of his own.
He’s averaged 20.98 points per game this season, including a career-high 32 points in an 87-77 loss to Country Day on Jan. 30. He scored 29 points in a 68-64 win over Faith Christian last week, followed by a 17-point, 17-rebound performance in last Friday night’s 79-48 rout of Wilton Christian. Tuesday, in FLC’s 80-71 defeat to Victory Christian, Boatman once again led the Falcons in scoring with 27 points.
“Under most circumstances this season, it’s been imperative that I get those numbers every night,” Boatman said. “Everybody has their role on the team. I just go out there and try to score as many points as possible. When I see an opportunities, I take them.”
The glamorous stuff aside, neither is afraid to mix it up with the tall timber in the blocks.
“We had some (pretty good inside) players last year, so I just stood out at the 3-point line, waiting for them to get me the ball,” Lazor said. “But this year I knew I was going to be guarding posts, so I really worked hard in the off-season to get (stronger) and faster. I’m still not as strong as most of them, but it’s helped.”
Boatman, who also spent his formative years in hightops on the perimeter, has proven to be a force down low.
“We have a smaller team this year, so Mark’s role changed,” FLC head coach Steve Gonet said. “He’s got great body control. I’ve never seen anyone twist and turn the way he can still get off the shot. It’s phenomenal at times.”
At the helm
As a sophomore on last season’s Pioneer Valley League runners up, Lazor was in a win-win situation.
With an overabundance of all-leaguers in the cardinal and gray, Lazor was free to learn the varsity game at his pace.
“We saw a lot of potential in Jake last year so we brought him up to varsity,” McCrory said. “He played quite a bit, but he wasn’t the go-to guy. We only had two seniors this year so even though he’s a junior, he’s the go-to guy.”
“It’s really not fair (to him) because he’s supposed to have another year of grooming. But the pressure was on him (from the start to be a leader),” he added.
Boatman was in a similar situation.
FLC also had the big shoulders of 6-foot, 4-inch wing Taylor Lawrence to lean on in crunch time last season, so three-sport letterwinner Boatman wasn’t forced to carry the load.
With the start of the 2004 campaign, Boatman found himself leading the charge.
“When it’s a big game, I definitely feel the pressure to score. But under most circumstances, that’s the way it had to be” Boatman said. “But for the most part, I don’t get nervous on the court. I just take what the defense give me. I play the game for what it is.”
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