Story and photos by Chet Piotrowski Jr.

Lake Land College women’s basketball coach Dave Johnson was visibly frustrated with his team’s performance in a 61-52 loss to Lincoln Land Community College Wednesday evening.

It was the second game in a row the No. 8 Lakers were bullied without much of a response, and it comes on the heels of their matchup with rival and 13th-ranked ranked Parkland College on Saturday.

“We weren’t very tough tonight,” he said. “Plain and simple: We weren’t very tough tonight. They were tougher and played harder. Therefore, they win. Basketball is not a difficult sport. Usually, if you’re tougher and play harder, you win.” 

The Lakers (17-5) managed only six attempts from the free-throw line.

“If we can’t realize that we’re going to get everyone’s best shot then maybe we shouldn’t be playing,” he said. “When you’re ranked in the top ten in the country, people are going to get excited to play you. I don’t think our kids really understand that. It happens way too much to us not being ready. I have to take that responsibility and do a better job of getting them ready.”

Johnson said his squad needs to work the offense more to create opportunities for the offense and be less stagnant.

“We have to get tougher because they’re going to pound us inside, too,” Johnson said of Parkland. “Their two leading scorers are inside players. It just comes with the territory. We either toughen up or get beat. There’s no magic formula. We have to understand that we have to play 40 minutes of toughness. We have to move the ball better. We’re not scoring in transition. We’ve become a very half-court offense. Not by my choice, but by the players choice. If they want to play that way, then they need to execute the half-court offense much, much better.”

Lincoln Land increased its lead as each quarter expired, leading by four after the first, then by eight at halftime, then down by 15, 46-31, midway through the third quarter.

“We just didn’t do a good job all around tonight,” Johnson said. “We try to win every quarter and we lost quarter 1, quarter 2, and quarter 3. Usually that’s not going to be a recipe for victory. They did a good job of working the clock.”

Smith recorded a game-high 15 points with not much of a response from Lake Land until Lakers guard Katelyn Littleton was assigned a technical foul with 90 seconds remaining in the game. 

Lincoln Land’s Marley Smith had her way around the basket, either outmuscling the Lakers or coming off screens from the weak side to score at will.

Frustrated, Littleton reacted to a Lincoln Land player after being pushed off again while on defense without a call being made.

“I kinda of lost it,” she said. “Was probably a little much, but after it’s been happening the whole game and scoring off it, I didn’t think it was fair.”

Littleton, who led the Lakers with 12 points, said the lack of communication hurt the Lakers.

We knew their offense,” she said after the team had a couple of days of preparing for a new look they haven’t seen this year. “I think it was just a lack of communication. We went over their offense multiple times. We scouted it. We had girls run it. It was just a lack of communication, not knowing where the ball is at, and where specific shooters are.”

Littleton credits Lincoln Land for coming to play. 

“They came ready to play,” she said. “We should have expected that and been more physical back instead of being soft and waiting for the refs to call something.”

The 5-foot-6 freshman guard from Paris said the team needs to be better in practice especially with the contest against Parkland on Saturday.

“It all starts in practice, honestly,” she said. “We have to come ready tomorrow for practice because we have Parkland on Saturday and that’s a bigger game than what tonight was. We definitely have to work harder in practice and come together as a team.”

Lake Land is without 5-foot-4 sophomore playmaker Tayler Barry, averaging 10.2 points a game, who is sidelined with a concussion. 

“She’s probably our best attacker and driver of the ball to the basket,” Johnson said. “That hurts. But we have 15 players. There’s no excuses. We’re not going to use injury as excuses. It’s an opportunity in my opinion.”

LINCOLN LAND19161616 –61
LAKE LAND 1512916 –52

LINCOLN LAND COLLEGE – Kodat 2 0-0 5, Nowaskie 1 0-0 2, Taylor 5 1-2 12, Scarlette 1 5-6 7, Lovett 4 0-0 9, Smith 6 3-5 15, Schmidt 1 2-2 5, Kretschmer 3 0-0 6. 3-pointers: Kodat 1, Taylor 1, Lovett 1, Schmidt 1. Totals: 23 11-15 61.

LAKE LAND COLLEGE – Littleton 4 2-2 12, Niemerg 3 0-0 6, Hardiek 4 0-0 8, Custis 3 1-2 10, Watson 2 0-0 5, Niebrugge 3 2-2 7, Russo 1 0-0 2, Wade 1 0-0 2. 3-pointers: Littleton 2, Custis 3, Watson 1, Niebrugge 1. Totals: 20 5-6 52.