LAKE MILLS — Outside of hitting a game-winning shot, there probably was nothing Marshall’s Cam Ward could have done on Tuesday night to outdo his last performance against the Lakeside Lutheran boys basketball team.
Last December, the Cardinals’ point guard poured in a career-high 44 points in Marshall’s 10-point victory over the Warriors.
While the junior didn’t come close to matching that output this time around, the familiar end result was all he was worried about.
Ward scored or assisted on all but one field goal during a 21-0 first-quarter run as the Cardinals built a big lead early and held off a furious fourth-quarter rally to defeat host Lakeside 77-74 in a non-conference Capitol crossover game.
“Teams have tried to isolate Cam and tried to really focus on him. We just have too many weapons … for teams to be able to do that any more, which is nice,” Marshall coach Jason McConnell said of Ward, who finished with a team-high 25 points and eight assists.
“That’s what we’ve tried to develop: balanced scoring. We have five guys that can average double figures.”
Marshall (6-1) outscored Lakeside 26-5 in the opening period, but Lakeside (5-2) erased much of the deficit with a 23-10 second quarter. Still, the Cardinals led by at least six points the rest of the way until late in the fourth.
Marshall guard Trevor McCarthy appeared to put the finishing touches on a comfortable win when the senior knocked down a pair of free throws to extend the Cardinals’ advantage to 71-59 with 2 minutes, 1 second left in regulation.
But Lakeside rallied with an 11-2 run, forcing a slew of turnovers while preventing Ward from handling the ball, to pull within 73-70 on a 3-pointer by senior forward Jason Eternick with 49 seconds remaining.
On the ensuing inbounds pass, the ball was deflected off Marshall’s Carl Henning for another turnover. But Lakeside couldn’t capitalize on its potential game-tying possession as Eternick, who finished with 19 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, came up empty on a drive to the basket.
From there, Marshall hit four of six free throws in the final 32.2 seconds to seal the win.
Ward, who credited Lakeside’s superior depth for its late spurt, missed his final free throw attempt with 2.7 seconds remaining but deflected a pass by Lakeside’s rebounder to prevent a last-gasp 3-point attempt.
“I try to keep myself in shape,” Ward said, “but you could see they all come off the bench and they’re ready to go. It’s like a cross country team.”
Marshall starters Henning (15), McCarthy (12) and senior forward Brendan Stensaas (11) all joined Ward in double figures.
“We buried ourselves … in that first quarter,” Lakeside coach Jim Bauer said. “But then, on the other hand, as a coach you’re very proud of your guys (for) giving that effort they extended to try to come back in it. We still had a chance right there at the end.”