MILLBURY — Lake seniors Elise Staczek and Mary Enright have been playing basketball together for years, so they know each other’s game.
For Staczek, a 5-foot-4 guard, and Enright, a 5-11 forward, basic plays like the pick and roll work like clockwork.
That was evident Saturday as Staczek scored 16 points and Enright scored 11 to lead Lake to a 47-30 Northern Buckeye Conference victory over visiting Otsego.
Enright’s points were often coming off assists from Staczek, and Staczek was scoring off dishes from Enright.
“It started in the sixth grade,” Staczek said. “Our parents coached us, and we’ve always been on the team together and we understand each other.
“Like, I know that she is always going to be there and when she is not there, I kind of read the defense, and so does she, and that is when she rolls. Otherwise, she will like, pop out. It’s just chemistry for sure.”
Lake coach Joe Nowak added, “They’ve done a pretty good job finding that connection and that chemistry between them to make some plays that a lot of people may not see.”
That doesn’t mean either cannot do their own thing — Staczek had five rebounds and four steals and Enright had four rebounds and five steals.
Lake junior Elena Longoria had nine points and three steals, senior Jessie Materni had eight points, five rebounds, and three steals, and freshman Penelope Garcia added three points.
Lake junior Kyleigh Christ did not score but had four rebounds and five steals. Like in recent years under Nowak’s watch, the Flyers’ pressure defense forced 27 Otsego turnovers.
However, things have changed this year. For example, there was no full court press for much of the second half.
“Offensively for us, we’ve had to make some changes from the beginning of the year just with injuries and different lineups that we’ve had to maneuver with,” Nowak said.
“That is something, too, that is a little bit of a change from previous years. We’re setting a little more ball screens and playing at a little bit slower pace.”
The Flyers shot 35% (17-for-48) from the field, including 6-for-9 from the line and had 17 turnovers.
Otsego shot 33% (12-for-36) from the field but made just 6-of-13 free throws, all in the first half when they got into the double bonus.
For the Knights, sophomore post Samantha Lehr had 14 points and nine rebounds, sophomore guard Sophie Dimick had six points, four rebounds and six steals, and sophomore guard Morgan Hillesheim scored six points.
Junior post Rylee Brown and senior guard Lauren Hillesheim scored two points each. The Knights held a narrow 31-30 edge off the glass.
Lake is 3-4, but 3-1 in the league while Otsego dips to 1-7 and 0-4. The Flyers’ lone league loss was 56-16 to Woodmore, but Nowak believes his team can do better.
“Obviously, playing against Woodmore was a different beast. They jumped on us, and we didn’t handle it very well,” Nowak said.
“We’ll certainly be more prepared for them the second time that we play them, but that’s a long way away (Jan. 12).
“There are a lot of things that are going to happen between then and now and we just need to make sure we can focus on getting the wins that we need and then hopefully make that game mean something to us.”
Staczek believes her team can stay in the hunt.
“I’m feeling good,” Staczek said. “So, we lost three players, two to injuries, and it has been an adjustment. We haven’t had a regular season, I guess, and I’m feeling confident now.
“We’ve been playing with each other more and we understand what works and what doesn’t, and so I feel like we can win the league.”
Nowak added, “We’ve had to deal with some pretty heavy adversity here at the beginning of the season, so we are in a stretch of games that we feel like we can really get some chemistry going, get some things together and get trending in the right direction for us.”
For Otsego, it’s about coach Eric Simon seeing his team get a little older and wiser after many of his players were thrown into the fire last year as freshmen.
In the third quarter against Lake, the 5-9 Lehr scored three straight possessions in the paint to get the score back to six, 30-24, with 4:40 remaining but the Flyers finished the stanza on an 8-0 run.
“There has been growth, but it’s missed opportunities. At halftime, we were 6-of-13 from the line. I mean, you make those, and we were down six (24-18) at half. We should be leading,” Simon said.
“It’s a confidence thing, too. We took our lumps last year and I still think sometimes we have a little bit of trouble getting over the hump. We are not doing the right things at the right time, and we still can’t finish layups.
“We talked about the ups and downs of the game, and we must continue to match that energy, and we did.
“They came out and they got 12 right away, and then we took a timeout, and we got the energy back and we matched. Just some things didn’t go our way and if we hit some foul shots, who knows?