Boys Basketball

Boys basketball: Lakota West knocks off Sycamore to set up GMC title opportunity

WEST CHESTER TWP. — Bryce Curry was mobbed by a group of youngsters wanting to take selfies. Some were even asking for autographs.

The Lakota West freshman phenom had just signed off on another dominant performance Tuesday night.

Curry scored a team-high 19 points and added one more thunderous alley-oop dunk to his highlight reel, leading the Firebirds to a 51-41 Greater Miami Conference victory over the Sycamore Aviators on Lakota West’s Senior Night.

“He’s a special kid, man,” Firebirds coach Kelven Moss said. “He’s just a difference-maker.”

The Firebirds (14-6, 11-4 GMC) are now tied with the Aviators (15-6, 11-4 GMC) atop the conference standings with one game remaining on the regular season schedule. Lakota West travels to Hamilton on Friday, while Sycamore hosts Lakota East.

“We’re hungry,” Moss said. “We know what’s ahead of us. It’s no secret. We’re locked in. Them boys want it.”

Lakota West, which fell to Sycamore 50-40 on the road in December, has won five of its last six. The Aviators have dropped three of their last four.

“I think we’re just in an insanely bad offensive slump,” said Sycamore coach Tim Austing, whose squad fired 16 of 41 (39%) from the floor and 0 for 6 behind the arc Tuesday. “We had good looks tonight. We had the lead. We had the ball multiple times and got some good looks. We just didn’t make them.”

Senior Raleigh Burgess scored a game-high 24 points and pulled down 17 rebounds for the Aviators, who led 12-11 after one quarter. The Purdue commit returned after missing the previous three games.

Burgess was slapped with his third foul late in the second quarter, which put a wrench in utilizing the 6-foot-11 senior the way Sycamore is used to.

“We’re not going to change who we are and what we do,” Austing said. “We’ve got to make a few shots. When we make our shots, we’re a pretty darn good team. It’s kind of been a while since we’ve done that.

“Our rhythm has been broken within the last month with just shooting and with guys practicing and playing. I think we get back to our rhythm this week with getting everybody healthy and making some shots.”

Lakota West assisted on 11 of its 15 field goals and only turned the ball over six times. The Firebirds built some serious momentum off an Isaiah Meade-Moss dunk in the third quarter and Curry’s alley-oop slam down the stretch.

“This was amazing, especially since this was Senior Night,” Curry said. “We’ve got to give those seniors a show and let them go out with a bang the last game here. This win meant a lot for the team in general.”

It did. Lakota West has a chance to claim its first GMC title since the 2012-2013 season when the Firebirds tied Fairfield, Sycamore and Middletown at 9-5.

“The biggest thing that I’ve taken away from our team is that they’re so connected, and they’re so bought in,” Moss said. “They believe in what we’re preaching, and you see it. You saw that tonight. Every game that we’ve lost this season, we’ve been in it. We’re a scary team when we’re locked in.

“Our guys just stepped up. I’m proud of them. They followed the game plan tonight. I thought we executed better in the second half, while we were kind of hesitant early. But I’m proud of them. Gotta keep it going.”

Josh Tyson and Meade-Moss had nine points apiece for Lakota West. Junior LJ Green, who bodied up with Burgess inside the paint the whole game, grabbed a team-high seven boards.

“We’ve got to keep trusting our coaches,” Green said. “We’ve gotten hot late this season. Our big thing is 3s. If we can knock down our shots, we’re a hard team to beat.

“One more win — GMC champs.”

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