BURLINGTON - He may not have the look of a basketball player, but Des Lacs-Burlington forward Chris Duke was the best player on the court Saturday.
The lanky 6-foot-4 frizzy-haired junior finished with a game-high 33 points and the Lakers crushed Hazen 68-49 at Burlington Elementary School.
"I hear that a lot," Duke said. "I'm lanky, tall, not that strong. But I worked hard in the offseason and that helped out. I'm always in the gym. I've been lifting a lot too and gained 30 pounds over the summer."
Des-Lacs Burlington junior forward Tanner Holte drives past Hazen’s Austin Cieslak during Saturday’s game at Burlington Elementary School.
DL-B used its sharp shooting in the first quarter to build a wide margin and never looked back. Duke and junior forward Tanner Holte hit back-to-back 3-pointers to open the game and the Lakers built a 26-11 lead after the opening eight minutes. Holte finished with 17 points.
"We expected about what we got out there," DL-B coach Doug Wagner said. "I saw some really good things. We came out of the gates smoking and scored 26 points in the first quarter. We only doubled that for the rest of the game, but it's early in the season."
The Bison couldn't buy a bucket all night, missing a number of shots from under the basket. Hazen had more fouls (six) than field goals (five) in the first half.
"We felt we had to play very intense defensively and we were a little sluggish, especially after last night," Hazen coach Randy Johnson said. "It's no excuse. We need to make sure we're ready to come out and guard. We missed some inside layups and when you do that you put even more pressure on your defense."
Whether it was via a half-court set or on the fast break, the Hazen defense could not slow down Duke and the Lakers, who led by 20-plus points the majority of the game.
"We were pleased how (Duke) shot the ball," Wagner said. "He took good shots. Those are shots he can make. He played within himself. We would like him to do that every night, but that's not reality."
Foul trouble plagued Hazen's starting point guard Dominick Opp. The 5-9 junior picked up two fouls in the first two minutes of the game and committed his third just 35 seconds into the second. Opp did not return until the start of the second half.
Duke thwarted any hope the Bison had at a second-half comeback, hitting his first two shots of the third quarter en route to a 12-point period. The Lakers led 60-36 after three.
"Every shot was going in for me," Duke said.
Junior forward Austin Cieslak led the Bison with 15 points.
DL-B travels to play Bottineau at 7:35 p.m. Friday. Hazen hosts Underwood at 7 p.m. Tuesday.