Lady Cavs’ breakout season ends
Published 10:13 pm Thursday, February 18, 2016
The first winning season in years for Lakeland High School’s girls’ basketball team came to an end on Thursday in the Conference 27 tournament semifinals.
The No. 2 Lady Cavaliers engaged in a spirited battle with No. 3 I.C. Norcom High School, but the Lady Greyhounds pulled away in the final minute for a 77-70 victory at Lakeland.
“I think they just wanted it more than we did,” Lady Cavs coach Brandey Blunt said. “We prepared for them, we just didn’t execute the way I felt we were supposed to, and we missed a lot of opportunities.”
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Norcom opened up a 5-0 lead to start the game, but setting the tone for what she would bring to the game for her team, Lakeland sophomore guard Makayla Dickens poured in eight points to bring the Lady Cavaliers within 11-9.
Baskets by Lakeland’s big three, Dickens and sophomores guard Kayla Barnes and Brianna Copeland helped the Lady Cavs take a 20-17 lead into the second quarter.
Both teams displayed sloppy ball handling at times, and in the second quarter, it contributed to the Lady Greyhounds gaining on Lakeland. They trailed only 34-32 at halftime and quickly took the lead to start the second half.
But the Lady Cavaliers fought back and three-pointers by Copeland and Barnes put them back up 40-37.
However, Norcom went on a run and ended the third period with a 55-46 lead.
Dickens was sensational at moments during the fourth quarter in the effort to keep her team’s hope alive. With 1:44 left, she hit two free throws to bring her team within four points of Norcom, then she stole the inbounds pass and made a jumper to make the score 72-70.
“She’s just that type of player,” Blunt said. “I believe she likes the pressure.”
However, Lakeland’s prospects dimmed late when Barnes fouled out.
Ultimately, the Lady Greyhounds were able to pull away.
Dickens finished with 25 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Barnes had 14 points and five assists, junior forward Deja Freeman had 12 points and nine rounds and Copeland had 11 points and three assists.
Reflecting on her players, Blunt said, “I told them I hurt for them because they fought this season. They made a run, and it’s unfortunate that you had to make it to the finals to get to regionals.”
Despite playing teams at higher classification levels and producing a 14-6 record for the year, Lakeland did not benefit from this with the conference’s power points system.
Nevertheless, the Lady Cavs will return their core next year and should pose formidable challenge to their conference rivals once again.