SACKETS HARBOR — For both Lyme and Sackets Harbor, Friday’s Frontier League “D” Division boys basketball game was a test of sorts.
For the Patriots, it was a chance to play one of the best teams in the section and to cap off a challenging three-game stretch that already included contests against Copenhagen and Beaver River.
For Lyme, it was opportunity to see what its offense is like with a hindered Isaiah Wilson. The senior forward has been battling knee problems since Jan. 3 that have kept him from being his typically explosive self. Lyme (11-1, 10-0) still won the game, 76-52, and Wilson still managed to score a laborious 17 points.
It’s the fourth game that Wilson has experienced this pain and coach Leo Wilson is still trying to figure out the most efficient way to use him.
“There’s games where his threes are falling for him and then there’s games where I think just because the way (he) comes down, it’s not there,” Leo Wilson said. “I think that was the instance tonight, when he was trying to get into his shot, I think he couldn’t get into it as well as he usually does.”
Wilson didn’t hit a three in the game despite multiple attempts, particularly early on. He made a difference on the inside and at the free-throw line.
“The biggest thing I’m noticing is the jump shots, it’s just altering that because I can’t get the knees, as far as the post it’s harder to jump,” Isaiah Wilson said. “I have to make myself do it, but it’s harder to do that. I just have to keep playing through it.”
Wilson’s physical condition has forced Lyme to pivot its offensive strategy. Ultimately that means having Kyle Gaumes play an even bigger role.
Earlier in the year, Gaumes made it a point to almost exclusively drive to the basket.
Leading up to Friday’s game, Gaumes had only hit 10 3-pointers in 11 games.
However, against Sackets Harbor (6-6, 5-6), the junior guard pulled up more from beyond the line and hit three 3s — finishing with a team-high 25 points.
“Without him out there our team is obviously not going to be the same,” Gaumes said. “But the way our roles have changed is that when he gets the ball in the high post, we obviously know that he’s going to look for us on the outside so we have to start hitting 3-point shots, which we’ve been doing.”
Lyme emphasized its 3-point shooting early. The first four scoring attempts were all 3-point shots. Tyler Wilson led that category as usual, hitting six 3-pointers — four in the first quarter alone. Lyme got away from giving Tyler Wilson the ball in the second half, something that Leo Wilson would have preferred not to do.
Tyler Wilson said that he wanted to try to go to the basket more, something that is even more important given Isaiah Wilson’s knees.
“We just have other guys who are stepping up, like Jake (Bombard) ... he’s starting to step it up and I’m definitely stepping it up now,” Tyler Wilson said. “We all just have different roles.”
As Leo Wilson watched his team adapt to the circumstances from his bench, on the other side of the scorers table, Sackets Harbor coach Jeff Robbins looked for encouraging signs from his young team against experienced Lyme.
He said he’s seen positive things in spurts this past week, but the Patriots have lacked poise.
Nolan Baker and Tyler Green each scored a team-high 13 points for the Patriots.
“We played hard, I think we let frustrations (out) when things aren’t going our way, right now we have some breaks downs, they’re more like frustration break downs and lack of focus,” Robbins said. “We need to tighten that up and I think we can compete with anyone.”
Sackets Harbor closes the regular season with an easier slate of games than what it just experienced.
The Patriots’ toughest contests will come Feb. 5 against South Lewis and Feb. 7 against LaFargeville.
The Patriots can’t afford to take these games lightly though. They’re currently clinging to third place in the “D” Division, a game ahead of LaFargeville.
Despite losing three straight, Robbins wants to remind his team that they’re very much still contention to make the league playoffs and sectionals.
“We’ve played Lyme and Copenhagen twice and we hope to see them again, which would mean we play them in the playoffs,” Robbins said. “And sectionals [are] a big goal, we didn’t make sectionals for the first time since before I was on the varsity team here so you’re going back 20-25 years I think, maybe more. So that’s a goal, to get back to sectionals and that’s very much in play.”