By Mike Monahan

A rule change has forced Lake Land to play in a new conference.

And it’s a doozy.

Lake Land, ranked No. 9 in this week’s national D-II NJCAA poll, moves to a Midwest Athletic Conference that includes No. 12 Lincoln Land, No. 14 Illinois Central and No. 20 Parkland.

LLC left the GRAC after the conference voted to require to play 18 conference games, preventing the team from playing quality non-conference opponents.

The Lakers will now play 14 conference games, including six against three schools that, like Lake Land, are ranked most seasons. Non-conference games include Muskegon and North Arkansas, both ranked in Week 1. 

Lake Land, national champs two seasons ago, is coming off a 22-10 season with six freshmen and nine sophomores on the roster. 

“We have the same goals: try and win the region and go as far as we can,” said Lakers coach Dave Johnson. “Those have always been our goals. We would like to play on the last day of the season (national championship). We would like to do it again for sure.”

The Lady Lakers have only one home game in November and that is Nov. 18 against Olney Central College at 6 p.m. “Hopefully the road games help us,” said Johnson. 

The freshmen class consists of Dori Frederick (guard), Katelyn Littlejohn (guard), Isabella Hardiek (forward), Alexa Miller (guard). Trinity Wade (guard), and Avery Fearday (guard).

“We have two things we have been working on (after last year) No. 1: be a better rebounding team. We have more emphasis on rebounding, positioning better. No. 2: something we have worked hard on and that is defensively working on transition to offensive sets, making them a little quicker and a little smoother.”

Johnson expects the Lady Lakers to be a deep team. 

“I think we will play at least 10 players every game,” said Johnson. “I feel like we have had really good competitive practices and no matter what group I put in they have competed well at practices and I feel confident we will be a deep team.”

Johnson said right now there are six players fighting for five positions. Tayler Barry, Chloe Custis, Olivia Niemerg, Lexi Niebrugge, Ali Watson and Marissa Russo are the six. 

“We will push the ball offensively,” said Johnson. “Defensively we will probably be more of a half-court team. I am not a big fan of pressing. With the 30 second shot clock you don’t have to worry about tempo. I am more concerned about not giving up a basket. Make them earn it and don’t give up any easy baskets.”

2022-23 Roster

Tyler Barry5-4GNewmanSo
Chloe Custis5-7GGreencastle, InSo
Kyia Haws5-11GPrima, AzSo
Lexi Niebrugge5-8GTeutopolisSo
Olivia Niemerg5-7GTeutopolisSo
Taylor Orris5-10FSullivanSo
Kylee Phillips5-6GNeogaSo
Marissa Russo5-8FTuscolaSo
Ali Watson6-0FHoopestonSo
Avery Fearday5-7GSigelFr
Dori Frederick5-7GCrawfordsville, InFr
Isabella Hardiek5-9FTeutopolisFr
Kaitlyn Littlejohn5-6GParisFr
Alexa Miller5-7GCadwellFr
Trinity Wade5-7GShelbyvilleFr

2021-22 Stats

Taylor Barber241.6751.1So
Taylor Barry2711.677.43.8Fr
Chloe Custis183.258.31.3Fr
Lexi Niebrugge2914.274.64.6Fr
Olivia Niemerg3113.181.28.7Fr
Taylor Orris181.2750.6Fr
Kylee Phillips191.547.11.3Fr
Marissa Russo314.078.93.7Fr
Ali Watson316.6754.3Fr


Nov. 11 at Triton College in Triton Dan Hull Memorial Classic vs. Triton College, 7;30 p.m.; Nov. 12 at Triton College in Triton Dan Hull Memorial Classic vs. Moraine Valley Community College, 1 p.m. ; Nov. 18-OLNEY CENTRAL COLLEGE, 6pm

Dec. 2-Morton College Classic vs. Waubonsee Community College, 5 p.m.; Dec. Morton College Classic vs. Morton College, 2 p.m.; Dec. 10-at Olney Central College, 1 p.m.; Dec. 16 LAKE LAND COLLEGE TOURNAMENT vs. Grand Rapids Community College, 6 p.m.; Dec. 17-LAKE LAND COLLEGE TOURNAMENT vs. Muskegon Community College, 2 p.m.; Dec. 28-at Illinois Central College Cougar Holiday Tournament vs. Black Hawk College-Moline, 2 p.m.; Dec. 29 at Illinois Central College Cougar Holiday Tournament, TBA; Dec. 30-at Illinois Central College Holiday Tournament, TBA

Jan. 6-at Lake Worth, Fl in Palm Beach State Tournament vs. Montgomery College, MD, 10 a.m.; Jan 7. at Lake Worth, Fl in Palm Beach State Tournament vs. Catawba Valley Community College, 2 p.m.; Jan. 8 at Lake Worth Fl in Palm Beach State Tournament, TBA; Jan. 14 at John Wood Community College, 1 p.m.; Jan. 18 ILLINOIS CENTRAL COLLEGE, 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 21-at Spoon River College, 1 p.m.; Jan. 25 DANVILLE AREA COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 5:30 p.m.; Jan. 28-LEWIS & CLARK COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 1 p.m.

Feb. 1-LINCOLN LAND COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 5:30 p.m. Feb. 4-at Parkland, 1 p.m.; Feb. 11-JOHN WOOD COMMUNITY COLLEGE, 1 p.m.; Feb. 15 at Illinois Central College, 5:30 p.m.; Feb. 18-SPOON RIVER, 1 p.m.; FEB. 22 at Danville Area Community College, 5:30 p.m.; Feb. 25 at Lewis & Clark Community College, 1 p.m.

March 1-at Lincoln Land Community College, 1 p.m.; March 4 PARKLAND COLLEGE, 1 p.m.; March 11-Region 24 tournament, TBA; March Region 24 tournament, TBA

2021-22 Stats (players that played in at least half of the games; all numbers are averages)