Second-half spree puts Lightning at top of SSC

Eastview forward Tate Machacek goes to the basket but draws a crowd during the Lightning's 80-62 victory over Lakeville North last Friday.

Boys basketball team takes one-game lead

You would have to assume that if Tate Machacek ever made five three-pointers in a half before, he’d remember it.

So when he says, “I do not recall that – no, not at all,” it’s likely Friday night was a first for the Eastview senior forward. Machacek hit five three-pointers in the second half of the Lightning boys’ 80-62 victory over Lakeville North, a game that also saw Eastview take solo first place in the South Suburban Conference after Shakopee lost to Prior Lake.

Machacek’s three-point splurge was one of the reasons Eastview (19-2 overall, 12-1 conference) took over in a 56-point second half. The Lightning and North were tied 24-24 at halftime.

Machacek, who recently passed 1,000 career points, had 20 in the victory over North. He said it had a lot to do with the attention 6-foot-11 teammate Steven Crowl, who scored 28 points, drew from the Panthers.

“I think the big reason I was so open was Steven was a monster in the post,” Machacek said. “They all collapsed on him, and it makes it easy for us on the perimeter to spot up and take a stand-still three. Maybe on one of them my (defender) lost me and I was open, but a lot of them were from Steven attracting all the guys in the paint and kicking it out. I was just hitting them today.

“There were a couple where I thought, ‘Yep, that’s good,’ right off my fingertips.”

Lakeville North (11-10, 7-6) played a patient first half and dictated a pace slower than Eastview prefers. Facing the top teams in the South Suburban has not intimidated the Panthers, who won at Lakeville South on Jan. 31 and lost by three points to SSC contenders Prior Lake and Shakopee. After winning eight consecutive Class 4A, Section 1 championships, Lakeville North was moved to Section 3 this year and becomes a potential playoff rival for Eastview.

“Lakeville North’s a really good team, but we just have to come out with a little more spark,” Machacek said. “The main thing we were trying to stress at the beginning of the game and at halftime was to get out to a lead, five, seven or nine points. Once we get up by that much they have to play our style, which is more fast, upbeat, rather than passing the ball for 45 seconds.”

Once the game opened up in the second half, Crowl was able to release downcourt and throw down several dunks. The senior forward, announced Monday as one of 10 finalists for the Mr. Basketball award, had been drawing double- and triple-teaming from North while the score was still close.

“You saw the effect of feeding Steven; he had 28 points,” Machacek said. “Everything kind of revolves around him, which it should because he knows when to kick it out. The way we moved the ball in the second half was a lot better, which opened up a lot more shots and a lot more makes.”

Jackson Purcell added nine points and Ryan Thissen eight for Eastview in Friday’s victory. Senior guard Josh Kamara had 18 points to lead Lakeville North, with Will Blascziek and Jordan Wall scoring 13 and 11.

On Tuesday, Eastview defeated Rosemount 64-51 to maintain its conference lead. Lakeville North defeated Burnsville 67-55, breaking a three-game losing streak.

Eastview will be at home against Apple Valley at 7 p.m. Friday. After that, four regular-season games remain before the Lightning defend their Class 4A, Section 3 championship.

“There’s still a lot to work on. We need to shore up on turnovers and move the ball better,” Machacek said. “But we’re doing a lot better job than at the beginning of the season, for sure.”

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