Lakeland defense too much for Tigers

Published 9:51 pm Saturday, January 9, 2010

CHESAPEAKE – For most of Friday night’s Southeastern District girls basketball game at Oscar Smith, the game was a frantic, even wild, contest. That suited Lakeland head coach Alan Jones just fine.

“This is exactly what we are. We’re a pressing, defensive team,” Jones said as his Lady Cavaliers had just improved to 4-4 in the district with a 42-32 win over Oscar Smith, largely thanks to his squad forcing 26 turnovers by the Lady Tigers.

The win is Lakeland’s first against Oscar Smith during the three seasons Jones has been head coach of the Lady Cavs to go along with a similar feat earlier this season over crosstown rival Nansemond River.

Lakeland’s probably had better individual talent on past teams, especially with the school’s all-time leading scorer Terika Lunsford who graduated last year, but Jones really likes what he’s seeing out of this team as a whole.

“This is the best team I’ve had since I’ve been at Lakeland…We getting the ball up the court well and executing better than ever before. No one’s looking for anyone, we’re able to just get the ball to whoever is open and anyone can take it to the basket,” Jones said.

And in a game such as Friday’s low-scoring battle at Oscar Smith, even when Lakeland’s offense struggles for stretches of the game, the Lady Cavaliers keep up their strong play defensively. Lakeland kept Oscar Smith in single-digit scoring in three of four quarters and held OS to 9-for-49 (18.4 percent) field-goal shooting; so a lot of offense wasn’t even needed for the Lady Cavs.

After the Lady Tigers made the first bucket of the night, Lakeland held them scoreless for nearly the next six minutes. Forward Ashley Johnson made three baskets, all in the paint, to lead the Lady Cavs on a 13-0 run in that span. Lakeland led the rest of the game. Johnson led the way for the Lady Cavs on both ends of the court, finishing with 18 points, 13 rebounds and seven steals.

“She’s been doing it all year. She’s going to play at the next level because she’s a hard worker and she’s in it, first and foremost, to help her team win,” Jones said.

Lakeland’s offense slumped for much of the second period, but Johnson scored three straight hoops in the last two minutes of the half to take Lakeland to a 25-13 lead at halftime.

Oscar Smith held Lakeland scoreless for the first 2:35 of the second half and trimmed the margin to 25-18. Lakeland’s pressing defense stopped Oscar Smith’s run right there though and still led 32-24 going to the fourth period.

Neither team scored for the first 3:05 of the final period. Lakeland’s Tierra Armstrong scored the first three points of the period and even with only 17 points by Lakeland in the second half, the last couple minutes remained comfortable.

Armstrong had a busy all-around game with eight points, eight rebounds and seven assists, with most of those assists being passes into the lane to Johnson. Quanisha Knight and Brittany Hailes had four steals each. Porshe Garner added six points and six rebounds off the bench.

Lakeland (4-5, 4-4) finishes its first half of the district schedule by hosting King’s Fork on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.