Buchanan comes up short against Lakeshore in district final

NILES — Underdog Buchanan gave Lakeshore everything it wanted in the Division 2 District championship game at Niles High School Saturday afternoon.

In the end, the Bucks came up just short in falling to Lakeshore 57-54.

Buchanan went down early, 19-4, but never gave up. The Bucks (11-6) cut the Lakeshore lead to nine points (29-20) by halftime and, after outscoring the Lancers 21-12 in the third quarter, tied the game at 41-41 heading into the final eight minutes of the 2020-21 season.

Over that final eight minutes, Buchanan did everything it could to overtake favored Lakeshore. The Bucks played hard-nosed and aggressive defense, made shots when they needed them, and took the ball to the basket with authority.

Buchanan was able to take the lead twice down the stretch — 51-50 with 3:12 to play on a basket by Gavin Fazi and 54-52 with 2:08 remaining on a basket by Macoy West — but were never able to get the defensive stops it needed to increase their leads.

Free throws would ultimately decide the outcome of the contest. Lakeshore would hit 26 of their 33 attempts, including 15-of-19 by sophomore guard Grant Gondrezick II. Gondrezick’s three free throws with 44.9 seconds remaining after getting fouled outside of the 3-point line decided the game for the Lancers.

Veteran Buchanan Coach Reid McBeth was very emotional when talking about how his team played against Lakeshore and the season his players, particularly the seniors, turned in.

“I just love this group of seniors,” McBeth said. “They love the game, and they love each other. My kids are tough kids,” McBeth said while trying to find the words between the tears and red eyes evident behind his COVID-19 mask after his underdog Bucks didn’t go quietly into the early evening against coach Sean Schroeder’s Lancers. “I don’t know how far we were down. I don’t know if anyone in the stands thought we were going to come back.”

Of those seniors, Fazi scored 17 points to lead the Bucks before fouling out of the contest. Logan Carson, the 6-foot-9 senior center, finished his career with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Gondrezick led all scorers with 29 points. He was the lone Lakeshore player to reach double figures.

The Lancers, now 12-2 on the year, advance to the Division 2 Regional semifinals on Tuesday at Benton Harbor High School, where they will face the host Tigers at 7 p.m.

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