Flyers led by lone senior

The Lake High School girls’ basketball team is in the rare position of having only one senior on this
year’s squad.
That senior, 5’11 forward Hayley St. John, is tasked with leading a varsity program that last year
suffered a losing season in the Northern Buckeye Conference (4-10), but finished 14-13 overall. The
team’s record was due in part by a spectacular postseason run by the Flyers.
“I’ve been very impressed with our girls’ commitment to improve. You got the attitude that they wanted to
improve. They were going to make the most of their time to try and build on our late-season success last
year,” head coach Joe Nowak said.
As a nine seed, Lake became the lowest ranked team to appear in a regional tournament match in 2020 after
beating four conference opponents (Eastwood, Woodmore, Otsego and Elmwood, respectively) in a row to
claim the district title. Now, the Flyers replace four seniors from that team.
Despite the low number of seniors, Lake returns plenty of quality experience. St. John ranked fourth in
total points and scoring average in the NBC a year ago. In addition to her 15.6 points per game, St.
John also ranked among the best rebounders in the conference. Her average of 7.7 boards per contest
ranked 7th best in the league.
“She’s in a unique position,” Nowak said of St. John, who is entering her fourth year at the varsity
level.
“She’s always had those older [teammates] who were vocal. In the past, she’s led by example. She’s given
tremendous effort. She’s finding herself in a new role where she’s pushed to be more vocal,” he said.
“At the same time, we’ve got a solid group of juniors that are right behind her that are not afraid to
be vocal. What’s great about that is all the players listen to each other.”
St. John is seeing support from several juniors. Returning is Ava Ayers, who garnered All-NBC honorable
mention last season. Also crucial for the Flyers offense is Delani Robinson, whose. 10.6 points per game
average ranked among the 10 best in the NBC.
Nowak, who enters his sixth year as head coach of the Lake program, says the expectations of winning a
conference title don’t always meet reality.
“We’ve gone from being picked to win the league and not winning it, to being picked lower down and
winning it, to being picked to win it again,” Nowak said.
“[The team] understands that it’s not a given thing. We’re still going to work for it.”