By Mike Monahan
SPRINGFIELD – Lake Land, the No. 7 team in the NJCAA, made six 3-pointers in the opening quarter to take a commanding lead that it never relinquished against No. 10 Lincoln Land in a 73-59 victory Thursday.
“I just through we came out and moved the ball and shared the ball well and when we hit the 3-pointers that helped,” said Lake Land coach David Johnson. “We kept the game at our pace for most of that quarter.”
Lake Land made a season-high 13 three-pointers out of 28 for a .464 percentage in the game.
The Lakers, though, never attempted a free throw in the game.
One reason for the 3-pointers was the fact the Loggers were playing a 2-3 zone. The Lakers finished the game with 21 assists on 30 baskets and defensively held Lincoln Land to a season-low 59 points, about 16.5 points below its season average. The Loggers, second in the nation in 3-point field-goal percentage, were held to 5-of-14, a .385 percentage.
Lake Land trailed 8-5 early before reeling off 12 straight points and taking the lead for good on a pass from Sullivan graduate Avery Still to Shania Schoonover, a steal and a layup, and back-to-back 3-pointers that forced Lincoln Land coach Chad Jones to call a time-out.
The Lakers led 20-11 when Abby Weis and Schoonover hit consecutive 3-pointers for a 23-11 advantage. Schoonover ended the scoring in the first quarter with a three-pointer.
“We finished every quarter well, I thought,” said Johnson. “Right before the half, we got a transition layup and got the lead to 15. We got a transition basket at the end of the third for a 14-point lead. Finishing quarters well was huge for us.”
Lake Land was the last to score in all except the final quarter, scoring seven straight once.
With Illinois Central College’s win over Parkland on Thursday, the Lakers move into a tie for first with Parkland at 6-1 in Region 24 games.
In the second half Lake Land, which played a man-to-man defense, built its lead to 17 points on a 3-pointer by Kamaria Gant. Lincoln Land, now 9-4 overall, closed within 53-43 late in the third and the Lakers built their lead to 66-48 in the fourth.
Lake Land, for the most part, held the Loggers to one shot.
“I thought we did a really good job of that,” said Johnson, whose team out rebounded Lincoln Land 32-27 with Harley Barry and Karrington Krabel pulling down a team-high six rebounds each. The Lakers held the Loggers to just six offensive rebounds. “Krable came off the bench and had six. Holding them to one shot is key for us and the team boxed out well.”
At one time in the second half Lincoln Land did go to a man-to-man and Barry drove around a screen for a layup.
The Laker bench outscored Lincoln Land’s bench 37-9 as Mikayla Sirjord had a team-high 19 points and Gant added 14. Sirjord was an impressive 7-of-10 from the field, including 5-of-8 from beyond the three-point line for the 11-2 Lakers. It was a season-high for Sirjord, who entered the game averaging just 1.6 points per game prior to the contest.
An unusual occurrence happened in the game as Lake Land didn’t attempt a single free throw.
Lincoln Land, 9-4, was led by Emily Meidel, who had a game-high 20 points and Taylor added 11. Meidel also snagged 10 rebounds.
“I still thought we made the Meidel girl work as she took 17 shots (7-of-17),” Johnson said. “She does a really good job of working hard to get her shot. Harley (Barry), Liz (Buescher, a Charleston grad), Karrington (Krable) and Kamaria (Gant) all guarded her at one time or another as we tried to mix it up on her. Harley Barry was on her most of the time and did a good job of making her work to score.”
The Lakers travel to Canton to play Spoon River in a Region 24 game at 1 p.m. Sunday.
LAKE LAND: Niemerg 2-0-0-5, Barry 3-0-0-6, Gant 5-0-0-14, Newson 1-0-0-3, Schoonover 4-0-0-8, Krabel 2-0-0-4, Weis 4-0-0-9, Buescher 1-0-0-3, Still 1-0-0-2, Sirjord 7-0-0-19, Totals 30-0-0-73
LINCOLN TRAIL: Oaks 3-2-3-8, Taylor 5-0-0-11, Meidel 7-4-4-20, Silvey 2-0-0-6, Burt 2-1-1-5, Walker 3-1-1-7, Hunt 1-0-0-2, Dumas 0-0-0-0, Totals 23-8-11-59
3-point goals: Lake Land 13-28 (Niemerg 1-1, Barry 0-2, Gant 4-7, Newson 1-1, Schoonover 0-1, Krable 0-2, Weis 1-2, Buescher 1-4, Sirjord 5-8), Lincoln Land 5-14, (Oaks 0-3, Taylor 1-2, Meidel 2-3 Silvey 2-4, Walker 0-1, Hunt 0-1). Rebounds: Lake Land 32 (Barry, Krabel 6), Lincoln Land 27 (Meidel 10). Shooting percentages: Lake Land .484, Lincoln Land .411. Turnovers: Lake Land 18, Lincoln Land 15. Assists: Lake Land 21 (Niemerg, Barry, Krable, Weis 3), Lincoln Land 11 (Meidel, Silvey 4). Steals Lake Land 8 (Schoonover 4), Lincoln Land 6 (Taylor 3). Blocked shots: Lake Land 1 (Newson), Lincoln Land 1 (Meidel).