The Lessing tour de force keeps rolling and Ft. Loramie became the latest victim in an atonement win Tuesday for Fairlawn.
Sidney – For those who have witnessed Shelby County League basketball for 25 years or so, you know. There’s nothing harder to do than beat a good team twice.
And boy howdy, did the Fort Loramie Redskins learn the hard way Tuesday, the victims of a 55-34 Fairlawn win that atoned for an earlier loss to the ‘Skins at Loramie back in December.
After that December game Fairlawn senior guard Nathan Lessing made a phophetic statement when he said, “We’ll go back home and work to prepare for them when they come to our place. This is County League basketball. We’ll be ready for them next time.”
Yeah, they did prepare. Lessing, the Shelby County League’s all-time scorer, presently sitting on about 1,900 points and averaging just shy of 30 points a game, plunged in another 28 Tuesday, exactly 51% of his team’s total, and simply confounded a Loramie defense that obviously knew of his stats and his rapidly growing reputation.
Lessing was 8 of 13 from the field, 2 for 2 from three point range, hit 10 of 14 free throws, had three assists, a couple of steals…and helped two elderly ladies to their car after the game.
“You just can’t find a better kid,” said Fairlawn superintendent Jeff Hobbs before Tuesday’s game.
Or a better basketball player in area Division IV in 2017, apparently!
But lest you quit reading, Lessing got some appreciated help early from teammate Luke Hickman, who promptly got the Jets started with a pair of three-pointers from the wing, which more than put his mates in a comfortable state of mind.
“Coming out and hitting a shot like that takes a lot of pressure off of me, and a lot of pressure off the team,” said Hickman, who would finish the night with a complementing 14 points. “It helps get everybody going and everybody was having fun at that point.”
Fun for the fact of a 14-7 first period lead, but a short-lived lead, in fact.
Loramie came roaring back in the second quarter to tie and go ahead, 15-14, on the strength of a couple of three-pointers of their own, from Cody Gasson and freshman Nick Brandewie, but the Redskins simply couldn’t withstand their sudden-found prosperity.
Lessing and company came charging back after a timeout to retake the lead and stretch it to an eventual 26-15 margin. That’s right, after taking the lead Loramie failed to score again before the half, while Lessing exploded for 10 of his 14 points in the half.
That spurt seemed to have the effect of blood in a tankful of sharks. Fairlawn came out to outscore the ‘Skins 20-14 in the third, a period in which they out-hustled, outworked, and got into the heads of a frustrated Loramie team. The ball seemed to bounce the Jets’ way. The calls seemed to go the Jets’ way, and yes, at the 5-minute mark of the quarter Loramie coach Corey Britton got the ceremonial technical foul – the sure sign that a bad night could go worse.
“They’re a good basketball team,” said Britton later. “They hit some shots early and we didn’t respond. We’ve practiced poorly now for about three weeks, and when you play a good team and you don’t practice well this is what happens.
“They’re a really good basketball team right now, and I think we thought we were a good basketball team at one point. But we’re not a very good team right now.”
Lessing, of course, helped make Britton’s words a self-fulfilling prophecy. One of the best players you’ll ever see without the ball in his hands, he became a nightmare for Loramie to defend in the second half.
Like a ghost he’d get lost in the traffic, only to pop out free to receive a no-look pass from teammate Keshaun Johnson. The Redskins could do little more than foul and send him to the line. Fourteen points in the first half – and fourteen more in the second, and eight of them from the charity stripe.
“They got us at their home floor and we wanted to get them at ours,” said Lessing. “Defensively, we’ve been preparing since we lost to them in December. Luke Hickman’s a great shooter and he got us off to a good start. He opened things up in the lane and really helped to get us going.”
Which is more than anyone could do for the struggling and frustrated Redskins. Evan Berning was the only player to crack double figures, with 11 points, as they shot 38% from the floor, but more telling of their struggles…only 47% from the foul line on 10 of 21 attempts! Loramie drops to 11-3 overall, and 7-2 in the league.
Fairlawn responded with 56% from the floor (18 of 32), and thanks to the efforts of Hickman and Lessing, connected on 5 of 8 attempts from behind the arc (63). The Jets are now 12-2 for the year, both losses coming against SCL opponents.
“This was a great win for us,” said Fairlawn’s Justin Tidwell. “Everybody stepped up tonight and seemed to make a play when we needed it. I told the boys after the game…this was a championship win because Loramie is a very good team. \
“Nathan Lessing had a phenomenal night. He make big plays when we needed big plays, and I could go down the line and tell you one big play after another that each kid made for us. Tonight we played like the kind of team that we think we are. This was a fun game to be a part of.”
And if you’re a Jets fan, cue the old Elton John song and anticipate more of the same. Nate Lessing believes the best is yet to come.
“I think we’re getting better every practice, every game,” he added before leaving the gym. “We’ve got some more tough league games coming up, but we just want to get better. It’s fun when you play like this.”
Benny and The Jets, anyone?