Lady Cavs getting ready to run

Published 9:19 pm Monday, November 28, 2011

Lakeland’s Simone Russell shoots during a Lady Cavalier scrimmage against Franklin Monday night. Russell’s one of only three returning players on the Lady Cavalier varsity squad, which lost six seniors from last season’s team. Lakeland starts its season Friday night at district opponent Hickory.

Brandey Blunt’s second season leading Lakeland’s girls basketball program seems as though it could be more of a rebuilding task than her first year.

Six Lady Cavalier seniors graduated last year. Blunt has nine Lady Cavs on her varsity roster heading into the season, which gets going — straight into Southeastern District play — with Lakeland playing at Hickory Friday night.

With one player out because of illness, eight Lady Cavs saw valuable playing time in a scrimmage against Franklin Monday evening at Lakeland.

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Six of Blunt’s players are either coming up from junior varsity to varsity or new to Lakeland. Because of the team’s youth, and how Blunt is approaching the preseason practices, she admitted to not being sure of what to expect when everything was going full speed.

“I thought everyone played very well together,” Blunt said.

“We do so many drills in practice. We’ve been doing drills, and not working on many game-time situations or scrimmages, because we’ve got to become fundamentally sound,” Blunt said.

The Lady Cavaliers blitzed Franklin for much of the four periods with superior athleticism and defensive pressure. At least for this scrimmage, speeding up the action was perfectly fine with the Lady Cavs.

Lakeland took their defense and turned it into fast-breaking offense on a few occasions. When it clicked for the Lady Cavs, they quickly turned a steal or a Lady Bronco missed shot into unselfish passing and lay-ups.

The Lady Cavs jumped out to an 18-2 lead in the first period. Point guard Kyiesha Barrett spurred the defense, leading to most of her eight points in the early going along with setting up more Lakeland breaks to the basket.

Post players Chardonnay Patterson and Simone Russell are returners and were leading scorers throughout the scrimmage.

“Our spacing was a lot better than it has been,” Blunt said. “We were concentrating more on making our shots and I felt our defense was pretty intense. There’s still a lot of work to do on both ends though.”

Last season, the Lady Cavaliers peaked around the midpoint of the season. Lakeland won back-to-back games and finished as runner-up in a tournament at Norcom between Christmas and New Year’s. The momentum didn’t continue into district play, however, as the Lady Cavaliers won just one more game the rest of the way.

The schedule is a tough one for a young group as the Lady Cavaliers hit the road for their first three games. Lakeland plays at Hickory on Friday, then against Wilson in a showcase at Norcom Saturday afternoon, then goes back to district play at Deep Creek Tuesday, Dec. 6.