Lake Land moved up three slots in this week’s NJCAA Division II women’s basketball poll to No. 16. Tonight, the Lakers take on No. 8-ranked Parkland in Champaign. Coles County Sports spoke with Lakers coach Dave Johnson to get a midseason assessment on his 10-1 squad.
Coles County Sports: How do you feel about the top-20 ranked Lady Lakers as of now?
Dave Johnson: We have started very fast for having 12 freshmen. I’m a little surprised by how quickly we are learning.
CCS: You have a big game tonight at Parkland; What are your expectations?
Johnson: Parkland is a big team, height-wise. We have to defend the post well and take away the wing 3-point shot.
CCS: Talk about the impact of this freshman class.
Johnson: We are starting four freshmen, and, out of the top nine players, eight are freshmen. It’s a talented group who play very unselfish.
CCS: Has Arie Sims become the leader you needed this year?
Johnson: Arie has moved into the role seamlessly this season. She has taken a more vocal role than last year.
CCS: Most of your team are local athletes: Carsyn Fearday and Abby Weis are from Effingham, Elizabeth Buescher is from Charleston, Josie Orris is from Sullivan and Jae Lynn Riggleman is from Casey. What does that mean to LLC?
Johnson: I think it brings a lot of pride to the LLC community that we have in-district players who are producing at a high level and are a major part of the success we are having.
CCS: The Lady Laker Holiday classic is coming up. Who is coming and what can we expect to see?
Johnson: We play John Wood on Dec. 28, a young team with a couple of outstanding freshmen. Kankakee is 10-1 and is a team that scores heavily at the basket and rebounds the ball really well. Prairie State is the fourth team. and they have a new coach. Not sure what to expect out of them.
CCS: Who has surprised you the most on your team this year?
Johnson: Elizabeth Buescher has been a key defender and rebounder for us who has quickly adapted to the physicality of the college game.
CCS: Do you set goals in season?
Johnson: Just to get better each game and be ready to win the Region Tournament.
CCS: What would you like to see this team do better?
Johnson: We need to improve on our half-court offense. We have been really good in transition, but need to know and understand our half-court sets better.
CCS: Why should people come out to see the Lady Lakers?
Johnson: We play extremely hard and very unselfishly. It’s a great group of young women who really enjoy seeing each other have success and playing for Lake Land College is exciting to them.
NJCAA Div II Poll
|2||North Iowa Area||IA||12-0||133||2|
|3||Kansas City Kansas||KS||14-1||126||3|
Lakers individual stats
|Jae Lynn Riggleman||30.8||1.4|