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Last year was arguably the worst season in the history of Lakewood basketball, which is noteworthy the winning standard its boys program has set during its tradition-rich history.

Randy Holmes contributed to that tradition as a player and has been the keeper of that legacy as the head coach since 2007-08 season and guided the Piners to at least a share of a Shore Conference division title in 10 straight seasons from 2008-09 to 2017-18.

Last year's seven-win season seemed to come out of nowhere, but Holmes knew all of the inexperience on the roster meant teaching and learning had to come before winning. This year, however, it was back to business for Ocean County's most decorated program.

After an 0-2 start to the season, Lakewood has reanimated as the Class B South favorite. Last week, the Piners won four huge games to earn the Week 5 Jersey Mike's Team of the Week Award and took over first place in Class B South at the start of this week.

Lakewood opened its season with losses to Barnegat and Point Pleasant Boro in heartbreaking fashion but finished the first turn through the division strong with five straight wins. The Piners put their improvement to the test with back-to-back games division games against Barnegat and Point Boro and won them both, first beating Barnegat in a tight game in Lakewood.

After Lakewood opened the week with a rout of Brick, the Panthers awaited in Point Pleasant to open up last week and Lakewood arrived ready. The Piners turned in a suffocating defensive performance - particularly during the second and third quarters - and rode a huge game from freshman Respect Tyleek (19 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) to an impressive, 58-38, road win.

That Lakewood victory snapped a 10-game winning streak by Point Boro while handing the Panthers their first loss in Class B South play.

Next up, the Piners handled Pinelands at home, 51-31, as senior Ryan Savoy scored 17 points to join the 1,000-point club. With an accompanying Point Boro loss at Lacey, Lakewood jumped into a first-place tie with the Panthers in B South.

Lakewood capped its week by renewing its rivalry with Neptune in a non-divisional showdown at the Piner Palace. Lakewood led most of the way until Neptune rallied over the course of the second half to take a one-point lead. Freshman Samir Padilla, however, came through with a go-ahead floater with 50 seconds left that proved to be the difference in a 42-41 Lakewood win.

Lakewood now controls its own destiny in the Class B South race and can wrap up an outright division title by either matching or besting Point Boro over the final three games. The Piners wrap up the B South schedule with Jackson Liberty, at Manchester and at Lacey.

 

2020 Team of the Week Winners

Week 1: Barnegat

Week 2: Middletown South

Week 3: Manalapan

Week 4: Point Boro