MATTOON — It’s been since Nov. 7 since the Lake Land women’s basketball team played Kaskaskia, which was only the second game of the season for the Lady Lakers.
In the game, Lake Land and Kaskaskia were tied at 52 going into the fourth quarter when Lake Land suffered a major letdown. Kaskaskia outscored Lake Land 29-7 in the fourth quarter to make it look lopsided as the Blue Angels won 81-59.
The Lady Lakers got their second shot against the Blue Angels on Wednesday at Laker Field House, and once again the game was tied going into the fourth quarter, this time at 55.
This time, the Lady Lakers didn’t wilt. They stepped up with 34 points and held Kaskaskia to only 7 points in the final 6 minutes as Lake Land went on to win 89-70 on Wednesday.
“(At Kaskaskia), we just fell apart, we got crushed. Today, I think we stepped up,” Lake Land coach Dave Johnson said. “The great thing about that fourth quarter, we played with intelligence and I thought that was a big difference. I think our kids play very hard all of the time, but sometimes we don’t use all of the information that we have. Tonight I thought we did a better job of that.”
The Lady Lakers (15-8, 7-5) used that information to take advantage of some matchups. Koty Crowder finished with 24 points, Avery Jackson had 23 points and Jaycie Roy had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
“There were some matchups that we knew we could take advantage of. I thought those three, Koty, Avery and Jaycie, played really well,” Johnson said. “Jamie Sandschafer struggled from the field, but she was 6-of-6 from the free-throw line and got us five rebounds. Gabby (Staub) played very sick tonight and did a good job as well with six rebounds.”
The Lady Lakers' ability to use that information shows how much the team has grown since November. Johnson said the team is in the gym more and looking at the scouting reports more.
“We are starting to be better students of the game,” Johnson said. “Watching more film on our own, getting into the gym more on our own and you can see them talking during dead balls on coverage. I think it’s a big sign that we’ve grown together as a team.”
Johnson was happy with the first and fourth quarter when Lake Land combined for 54 points, but he was especially proud of the defense. After losing to Wabash Valley on Saturday, Johnson wanted to change up defenses and went with a 1-3-1. The Lady Lakers only had two days of practice with it, but it worked in the fourth quarter against Kaskaskia.
“That’s the first time we’ve ran that defense in the 20 years I’ve been here,” Johnson said. “I thought that might be an advantage because you don’t see it much. We put it in, our kids worked hard on it. Avery was a huge key playing the bottom of that zone. I give her a lot of credit defensively.”
Lake Land had a 10-6 lead to begin the game when Staub scored and Aislinn Parish had 4 straight points to put the Lady Lakers up 16-6. Lake Land’s offense was clicking in the first quarter and went into the second with a 20-13 lead.
But Lake Land’s defense broke down in the second quarter as Kaskaskia scored 23 points.
Lake Land was up 27-17 with 7:15 left in the half when Kaskaskia went on an 8-0 run to cut it to 27-25. The Blue Angels later tied the game at 29-29, and then a 5-0 run put them up 34-31.
Kaskaskia was up 36-33 when Jackson made two free throws, and Kodey Bush’s bucket put Lake Land back up 37-36 going into the half.
Lake Land went up 41-36 to start the third quarter, but Kaskaskia came right back with an 8-0 run for a 44-41 lead.
The Blue Angels kept a 51-45 lead when Jackson made back-to-back buckets to spark an 8-0 run for a 53-51 lead.
Kaskaskia got a jumper and then forced a turnover, which the Blue Angels turned into a bucket for a 55-53 lead. Parish got two free throws to tie the game at 55 going into the fourth quarter.
Kaskaskia went on on a 4-0 run for a 59-55 lead when Roy scored 7 straight points for a 62-59 lead with 7:05 left.
Kaskaskia scored the next 4 points to go back up 63-62 when Lake Land took control, holding the Blue Angels to only 7 points in the final 6 minutes.
Lake Land took the lead and cruised to an 89-70 win.