Lake’s girls basketball team is peaking at the right time.
After a tough Northern Buckeye Conference loss to Genoa late in the regular season, the Flyers have won three straight games, including sectional victories over NBC foes Eastwood and Woodmore. The Eagles and the Wildcats had each beaten Lake twice during the regular season.
In the Division III sectional final Saturday evening Lake rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Woodmore, 64-57 at Bowling Green High School. Woodmore finishes 17-6.
“Our last three games were against three really good teams … I think they have shown their potential they have had all year,” Lake head coach Joe Nowak said about his team. “I told them it’s a little frustrating because they had that in them all year. Now they are pulling it together and it’s the right time.
“We were confident we could play with Eastwood and Woodmore,” he continued. “We just had to make the plays we didn’t make the first time. I think that just shows the growth of these girls … We learned through all those heart-breakers we had during the season.”
With the victory the Flyers are 12-12 overall and will face Otsego, another NBC opponent, Thursday at 8 p.m. at Anthony Wayne in the district semifinal. Otsego is another team which defeated Lake twice in the regular season.
“It feels unreal because we didn’t do that well during the season. We just beat two teams we didn’t beat in the season, so it’s crazy,” Lake junior Haley St. John said. ”We knew we could do it…We worked really hard.
“It’s time to get them back. We lost by one the first time (against Otsego) and it was really upsetting,” St. John added,
Woodmore took a 46-42 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Flyers exploded for 22 points and allowed only 11 to earn the sectional title.
With 3:49 left in the fourth quarter, Woodmore had a 54-49 lead. The Flyers then went on a 7-0 run to tie the game with 2:50 remaining. Ava Ayers’ layup and ensuing foul shot made it 54-54.
Delani Robinson made two free throws with 2:13 remaining to give Lake a 56-54 lead.
Woodmore’s Brooke Allen, who finished with 19 points, made a layup to tie the game at 56 with 1:37 left.
Lake then went on a 6-0 run on a basket by St. John, two free throws from Robinson and two free throws by Ayers.
Woodmore made one foul shot with 30.3 seconds left and Ayers’ basket with 20.5 seconds remaining closed out the scoring.
“We have been working on our defense a lot lately and it’s had been a main focus for us … Going on defense has got us here,” St. John said. “Playing as a team and not as an individual has been a really big help.”
The teams were tied at 14 after the first eight minutes and the Wildcats took a 25-24 lead into the halftime break. Allen, a 6-feet-1 junior, scored 12 points in the opening half for Woodmore.
The Wildcats then out-scored the Flyers, 21-18 in the third quarter to set the stage for the final eight minutes.
Woodmore’s Jordan Nighswander finished with eight points in the third quarter, including a 6-of-8 effort from the free throw line. Robinson scored nine of her game-high 21 points in the third quarter, including two 3-pointers to help keep Lake in the game.
Lake was 7-of-10 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, and 11-of-15 for the game. Robinson was 5-of-5 and Ayers was 5-of-8.
“As of late they have been very confident going to the line,” Nowak said.
“We came in this morning and got a lot of shots in and that really helped,” St. John said.
The Flyers finished with four players in double figures with the starters scoring 62 of the 64 points. Ayers added 17 points, iwith seven in the fourth quarter. St. John finished with 12 points and Karly Beiker scored 10 points, including three 3-pointers.
“I am unbelievably proud of this group of girls. We went through some games that we should have won and didn’t pull out and most of our league games were heart-breakers. We were right there and we couldn’t pull through,” Nowak said.
LAKE 14 10 18 22 -- 64
WOODMORE 14 11 21 11 -- 57
Ayers, 6-5—17; St. John, 6-0—12; Bekier, 0-3-1—10; Robinson, 5-2-5—21; Askins, 1-0—2; Enright, 0-0—0; Bomyea, 1-0—2. TOTALS: 19-6-11—64.
Beam, 0-1-1; Rothert, 1-0—2; G. Bauder, 2-0—4; Nighswander, 2-6—10; Allen, 8-3—19; Blausey, 1-0—2; M. Bauder, 5-5—15; Buhrow, 2-0--4; Wellons, 0-0—0. TOTALS: 21-15—57.