When you don't play your best and still win, it can feel like a loss.
That's how Iowa Lakes coach Troy Larson felt after eking out a 65-57 win over Iowa Central on Wednesday.
"Lately we're just not as focused," he said. "Sometimes when you have success and win some games, it's harder to have that edge."
Larson said Iowa Central played harder than the Lakers.
"We just made a few more plays," he said.
Larson did commend the play of Deondre Parks who had 12 points in each half to finish with 24. He was 8-of-13 from the field, including 4-of-6 from 3-point range and 4-of-4 from the free-throw line. He also led the team in rebounds with seven.
The two teams battled to a 23-23 tie through the first 13 minutes of the game.
In the final 7 minutes, both teams struggled to hit from the field until baskets by Parks and Diamonte McKinley in the final minute. That gave Iowa Lakes a 32-24 edge at the break.
After shooting just five free throws in the first half, Iowa Central started the second half attacking the basket, drawing fouls and getting to the free throw line.
That allowed the Tritons to get within three points. But Parks hit back-to-back 3-pointers to maintain a six-point Laker edge at 40-34.
But Iowa Central kept fighting and got within a point twice, the last at 50-49 with 7:50 remaining in the game.
However, the Lakers hit enough shots and free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.
The Lakers led 61-57 with 2 minutes left in the game and while the Tritons had their chances, four free throws by Kelly Madison in the final 40 seconds sealed the victory.
Madison finished with 16 points while Josh Schaben had 10 and Ben Shellim had five. McKinley and Colton Neff each had four points and Tate Harmon had two.
Larson complement Harmon for his defense and also Kevin Larson for running the offense well in the closing minutes.
Rhys Ellis and David Anderson led Iowa Central (12-9, 2-4) with 14 points apiece.
Iowa Lakes (13-4 overall, 6-1 in the league) hosts Clinton at 1 p.m. on Saturday.