Trenton (NJ) – Coming into Saturday's game with two-time New Jersey state champion Haddonfield, Solon junior All-Ohio center Dallas Lauderdale knew that in order for his team to win he would have to shut down the Bulldawgs' highly touted senior center Brian Zoubek. Unfortunately for Solon, Lauderdale was unable to do so, and Zoubek and the Bulldawgs went on for a 59-47 convincing victory over the Solon Comets Saturday at the Prime Time Shootout in Trenton, New Jersey.
The highly anticipated match up between the 7-2 Duke recruit Zoubek and the 6-9 Lauderdale of Solon had everyone at Sovereign Bank Arena on the edge of their seats. As the game began the teams went back and forth with both Solon and Haddonfield hitting their outside shots and going to the basket, and though Solon was down 10-5 quick in the first quarter, they stormed back with a 7-0 run that put them ahead 14-10 at the end of the first quarter. However it was evident that Zoubek was going to pose problems for Lauderdale and the Comets.
During the second quarter, the play got more physical between the two big men and Lauderdale had to sit for two minutes with a bloody nose. With the absence of his center, Solon coach Todd Van Reeth switched up his team defense to a 2-3 zone, attempting to contain Zoubek the best they could. However, Haddonfield senior guards Joey Malcarney and Princeton recruit Blake Wilson were able to convert three pointers putting Haddonfield ahead by one at halftime, 25-24.
Solon regained the lead after halftime with a three pointer from 6-2 senior Billy Grant at 5:25, putting the Comets ahead 30-29, which would end up being Solon's final lead of the game. As the third quarter came to an end, Lauderdale just could not get into the flow of his game with just four points. He began to block shots and get some rebounds, however he played passively and cautiously, while Zoubek continued to crash the boards and became an inside scoring threat. Zoubek finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 blocks. The Bulldawgs led after three quarters 44-38.
In the fourth quarter, Lauderdale was unable to stop Zoubek. Solon put two and sometimes three bodies on him at a time, leaving Malcarney and Wilson wide-open on the outside to hit uncontested three-pointers. When the Comets came up to defend the shooters, Zoubek's teammates sent the ball down low where he had no problem finishing over Lauderdale.
Unable to score down low, Solon was taken out of their initial game plan and was forced to play a perimeter game. At this point, Haddonfield was confident that their defense on Solon's big man was a success, with Lauderdale being held to just four points, six rebounds, and shooting just 1-of-11 from the field.
Losing by 10 with under a minute to play, all Solon could do was watch as their regular season 38-game win streak come crashing to an end. The final score: 59-47.
Playing up against big men like Lauderdale was nothing new for Zoubek because he had been playing AAU basketball over the summer with this type of competition.
"I believe that my attitude is what helped us win this game. Lauderdale is a good player, and he may be better than me but I came out tonight and played my game, and nobody can beat me in one-on-one situations when I play my type of game," Zoubek explained.
This game featured two of the best future college basketball players that will be making a lot of noise on the next level, Nike scout Ron Briscoe said.
"I personally feel that Lauderdale has a lot of raw talent with basic
skills," he added. "He has the ability to become a great player, and I know that
he'll be doing a great job at the next level some day."
Other national scouts feel the same way about Lauderdale. Just because this
game did not go his way, they know he can perform at an elite level because of
the competition he plays against during the summer with his AAU team. This game
was a learning experience that will help Lauderdale for the future, and will
prepare the Solon Comets for their long journey through the Division I Ohio High
School State Playoffs.