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'Press breaker down' key for Portledge's resurgence

Portledge's David Lustberg (32) goes up for a

Portledge's David Lustberg (32) goes up for a layup. (Feb. 16, 2012) (Credit: Alan J. Schaefer)

David Lustberg calls the Portledge boys’ basketball team’s full-court press the “press breaker down," and when it’s executed correctly, look out.

“I think if we can get our press breaker down, I don’t think many teams can beat us,” Lustberg said. “We love to get up and press. It’s exciting. We know it leads to easy buckets in transition.”

Thanks to the press breaker down, Portledge (4-4) has gotten back on track this season. Since the start of the New Year, the Panthers are now 3-0 overall and 2-1 in the Independent Private and Parochial Schools Athletic League (IPPSAL).

“Everyone is starting to understand every single facet of the boys’ basketball game,” said Lustberg, who is in his first season playing point guard. “The time off the court helped us going into the New Year. We had to pick up our play.”

Lustberg’s been the key in doing just that. His 20 points and five assists led Portledge in its latest win, a 64-44 triumph over Evangel Christian, in non-league Monday.

Panthers coach Nick Woll sees his team turning the corner as it seeks its third consecutive IPPSAL title and fourth out of the last five seasons.

“We never talked about our record,” said Woll, whose Panthers lost to Our Savior New American and Upper Room Christian in non-conference that led to their 1-4 start. “We had lost to teams that were better than us, but it’s helped us out as we’ve gotten better everyday.”

Woll’s right. Portledge has gotten better and the results speak for themselves. In its last two IPPSAL games, Portledge defeated Solomon Schechter (56-35) and Waldorf (47-36) on Jan. 8 and Jan. 10, respectively.

Helping Lustberg along the way is Kyle Flowers, who had four 3-pointers in his game-high 18-point performance in the Solomon Schechter win. Like Lustberg, whose natural position is shooting guard, Flowers is taking on a new role as more of a scoring guard.

“We need to keep improving, gelling as a team, and keep working on our new roles,” Woll said. “It’s a very mentally tough team with great leadership, both on and off the floor.”

Portledge’s only IPPSAL defeat came at the hands of Martin De Porres. The rematch takes place at 5:45 p.m. Feb. 5 at Portledge.