By Mike Monahan
Not bad for taking six days off from practice.
And 11 days between games.
Didn’t matter: No. 7 Lake Land scored 80 points for the third time in four games and compiled its largest margin of victory in steamrolling Kankakee College for an 81-39 NJCAA victory Wednesday night at the Lakers Fieldhouse.
Ahead 17-13 entering the second quarter, the Lakers (11-4) outscored Kankakee 30-5 to go ahead 47-18 at halftime and essentially ice their fifth straight win.
It is the third time in four games the Lakers have scored 80 while the 42-point margin is the largest of the season.
“Yes, it was a concern and we were off until the 26th so they had six days without practice,” said Lake Land coach David Johnson. “We were decent in practice the last few days and we came out ready to go today. You have to be pleased with the effort. We are starting to do a better job of mentally preparing for games, understanding the scouting reports, knowing the sets we are going to run and the things that will be available for us offensively.”
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Lake Land played aggressively, going to the free-throw line 46 times, making 32 (69.6%).
In the blowout second quarter, Lake Land converted 12 of 17 from the free-throw line while Tayler Barry had eight points and Marissa Russo netted six.
“I thought we did a good job of getting transition baskets in the second quarter and pushing the ball up the court,” Johnson said. “I am really pleased with our effort.”
In the third quarter, Lake Land made just two field goals, but made 10 of 14 free throws to retain a 65-32 lead heading into the last quarter.
Barry scored 14 points overall, followed by Olivia Niemerg and Marissa Russo with 12 apiece. Lexie Niebrugge added 10. Every Lakers player scored at least three points.
‘We actually got off to a good start,” said Johnson. “We just went a little cold in the second half of the first quarter, but when you shoot as many threes as we do you are not always going to make them”
Lake Land played a 2-3 zone in the second half.
“We want to get better at that,” said Johnson. “Obviously, when you have a substantial lead it is a good time to work on things.”
After the game, a video created by Davis Johnson was displayed to celebrate Dave Johnson’s 500th career coaching victory, earned Dec. 17 at Grand Rapids College.
“It was very, very appreciated of the effort that it took to make that,” said Johnson. “I thank my assistant coaches. Obviously you don’t do things by yourself. My wife (Stephanie) and my family are a huge part of why I have been able to be successful here at Lake Land. They allow me to put a lot of time into this. I miss family things, at times. My wife has done a good job of kind of being the solo parent during the winter months because I am gone a lot. People like Aaron, who has filmed for us for years and does a great job. There are so many people here at Lake Land, and this plays a role in why we have been successful and I appreciated that.”
Johnson was recently inducted into the Illinois Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
“You don’t really think about that when you are coaching because that just means you have been doing it for a long time,” said Johnson. “I do appreciate the nomination and the award. It is something very near and dear to my heart.”
Lake Land plays at Illinois Central College tonight against Palm Beach State (2-12), but then is off until Jan. 12 when they travel to John Wood. The next home game is Jan. 19 against Illinois Central College.
LAKE LAND: Niemerg 3 4-4 12, Sirjord 0 8-12 8, Barry 3 7-8 14, Watson 1 1-2 4, Still 3 2-4 8, Barber 1 0-0 3, Niebrugge 3 2-2-10, Russo 5 2-2 12, Phillips 0 5-10 5, Orris 2 1-2 5, Totals 21 32-46 81. 3-point goals: Lake Land 7 (Niemerg 2, Niebruggs 2, Barry 1, Barber 1, Watson 1)