OLNEY — It was just a week ago when the Lake Land women’s basketball team suffered a loss to Southeastern Illinois College at Laker Field House. At the time, the Falcons only had five wins for the season.
The Lady Lakers had some time to think about that loss and to find a way to turn things around quickly since they traveled to Olney Central College on Wednesday. Olney is a team with a 7-1 Great Rivers Athletic Conference record.
The same Lake Land team didn’t show up on Wednesday. Not only did the Lady Lakers compete better against a 13-win OCC team, they pulled away a bit in the fourth quarter to get a 74-69 victory.
“It’s a mindset. Defensive mindset,” Lake Land coach Dave Johnson said. “We gave up only 28 points in the second half. We did a better job of staying in front in the second half. We didn’t do a great job on the ball screens, but we did a nice job of walling up and making the shots inside tough.
“Pleased that we can win a tough game on the road. We are 6-1 away from Lake Land. For some reason, our focus and our attention is better on the road.”
Lake Land (13-7, 4-4) was missing Koty Crowder, who was injured in the second half of the game against the Falcons. Crowder is Lake Land’s second-leading scorer, but Jamie Sandschafer and Gabby Staub stepped up with some extra points against OCC.
Sandschafer finished with 16 points and Staub had 12.
“Gabby had some huge baskets and rebounds in the second half. Jamie hit some big, big shots for us and played great defense against their leading scorer (who only had 10 points),” Johnson said.
Zyah Burnett played even though she passed a kidney stone earlier in the day. The freshman forward had one of her best games and scored 9 points.
“Zyah gave us big baskets,” Johnson said. “I would say that’s a pretty tough young lady right there.”
Jackson led the team with 25 points, and Johnson liked how she distributed the ball in the second half.
“I don’t know how many assists she had, but she had several,” Johnson said. “They were such good assists that led to an easy shot.”
Avery Jackson got Lake Land on the board with a 3-pointer and a layup for an early 5-0 lead. Olney got within 9-8 when Gabby Staub scored and then Callie Williams hit a 3. Lake Land had an answer every time Olney got close in the first quarter and scored 21 points for a 21-16 lead.
Olney tied the game at 31 in the second quarter when Jamie Sandschafer hit a 3-pointer to give Lake Land the lead again. Olney stayed close and took its first lead at 37-36 with 2 minutes left in the half.
Burnett got the lead back with a bucket, but Olney held the Lady Lakers scoreless for the rest of the half and took a 41-38 lead.
The two teams traded the lead to begin the third quarter when Sandschafer hit a 3 to give Lake Land a 48-46 lead. Olney later tied the game at 55 going into the fourth quarter.
Staub got an offensive rebound and bucket for a 59-57 lead, and Lake Land didn’t trail again.
Lake Land was up 64-62 when Staub got a bucket and Jackson made two free throws for a 68-62 lead with 1:48 left in the game.
Olney got two free throws, but Lake Land came back with a 5-0 run for a 73-64 lead with 47 seconds remaining. Lake Land went on to win 74-69.
Now Lake Land has to build off this. The Lady Lakers host Rend Lake on Saturday.
“We have to keep it rolling. We can’t get arrogant,” Johnson said. “I’ve never met a great athlete that was highly arrogant because when you are arrogant, you let down. You don’t play everybody the same way. We have to play everybody the same way.”