CLAYMONT — On paper, Archmere’s boys basketball game against Lake Forest on Feb. 10 should not have been close. The Auks were at home, but they were playing without two starters, and the Spartans entered Moglia Fieldhouse with a record of 13-3.
Lake had held the Auks scoreless for the last 5:45 of the first half and took a 29-14 lead into intermission. The Spartans added two more points to the lead to open the second half, only to watch Archmere mount a furious comeback, send the game into overtime at the buzzer, and lead briefly in the extra session before Lake Forest bounced back for a thrilling 56-53 win.
Archmere played without injured starters Charlie Malloy and Drew Duncan, along with P.J. Blessington, whose minutes this season have been limited by a lingering football injury.
Down 17, the Auks began to climb back into the game by controlling the rebounding and taking care of the ball. The Spartans scored a bunch of first-half points after turnovers caused by their man-to-man defense or by limiting Archmere to a single shot on offense.
Ryan Hagenberg scored on a back door feed from Miles Kempski, and Jack Dellose contributed a free throw, then a short field goal to cut the deficit to five. Darius Miller got two points back for the Spartans, but the Auks then turned to the long-distance game.
Kempski hit a triple, and after a defensive rebound and long pass, John Orsini nailed a corner three, cutting Lake’s lead to 33-25. Orsini connected from deep again after yet another Auks rebound, and Kempski then found Orsini racing toward the hoop for a layup. With 2:13 left in the third period, the Auks trailed by just three.
The lead reached five points, but Orsini hit his third triple of the quarter, and he finished the period by going back door, taking a pass from Kempski and leveling the score heading into the fourth.
Dellose began the scoring in the fourth with a mid-range jumper, putting the Auks ahead for the first time since it was 7-6 midway through the first. Jackson Starkey tied it for Lake, kicking off a tense final six minutes when the largest lead for either team was three points.
That came with about two minutes to go after Dellose collected a huge offensive rebound and found Hagenberg open for a 15-footer, giving the Auks a 45-42 advantage. The lead was 46-44 in the closing seconds when Seth Young’s three-pointer from the top of the circle pushed the Spartans into a 47-46 lead with 14.1 seconds on the clock. The Spartans got the ball back, and Starkey made one of two free throws with 1.5 seconds to go.
Archmere inbounded the ball to near midcourt and immediately called timeout with exactly one second to go. Orsini sent a two-handed pass toward the hoop, and Kempski leapt and laid the ball off the glass as time expired to send the game to overtime.
Orsini gave the Auks the early lead with his fifth and final three-pointer of the day, but Jaabir Robinson re-tied the game with an old-fashioned three-point play. Orsini them made a scoop shot under a defender with 1:36 to go, but that would be it for the Auks offensively. Darius Miller made one free throw, and when he missed the second, Robinson was there for the putback. The Auks had chances to tie or take the lead in the final minute, but they just could not connect.
Miller finished with 21 to lead the Spartans, and Seth Young added 20. Lake (14-3) is home for its final three regular-season games, beginning Tuesday at 5:45 p.m. vs. Sussex Central.
Orsini stood out on offense for Archmere, finishing with 26 points. Matt Malloy added 9. The Auks (7-9) are home on Monday against Brandywine at 6:15 p.m.
Photos by Mike Lang.