Lakers coach Dave Johnson chats with his team earlier this season. (File Photo)

By Pilar Barrio Sanchez

Lake Land women’s basketball (27-3) starts its road to get to national play when it plays host to Danville Area (6-15) in the Region 24 NJCAA Central District basketball quarterfinals at 5:30 tonight.

They have only faced each other one time this season, on Dec. 21 when Lake Land beat Danville Area in a close game, 59-53.

“The last couple days we have been watching film to see what we can improve from the last time we played them.” Lake Land coach Dave Johnson said.

The winner will then travel to Peoria to play in the Final Four of the Region 24, set for Friday and Saturday. Lake Land would next face the winner of the game between Lincoln Land and Lewis & Clark.

“Last time we played them, we didn’t have our second top scorer, Abby Weis,” Johnson said. “But I have to give credit to Danville. They are a really good defensive team.”

The Region 24 is one of the strongest of the country, with three of its seven teams ranked in the top 10: No. 5 Lincoln Land, No. 6 Lake Land and No. 9 Illinois Central. The winner goes to the national tournament and there are no at-large bids.

“I think we all three have the same chances to win it,” Johnson said. “It is going to be a great battle between the three teams.”

Lake Land has already faced both teams with different results. The Lakers defeated Illinois Central (24-6) by 21 points, and then lost to Lincoln Land, 66-65, on a 3-point buzzer beater. They had led by as much as nine points midway through the fourth quarter. 

Lake Land is now averaging 73.5 points per game and 30.4% in 3-pointers, a strength the entire season. The Lakers enter tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak.