The Lady Lakers basketball team finished out the 2019 year with a 78-67 victory over the visiting Skippers from St. Clair County CC. The victory puts the Lakers at 12-1 while St. Clair falls to 7-6. The Lakers started off slow as they struggled to get into a rhythm. They were playing without injured point guard Julie Hajdu and so Lakeland struggled to get into an offensive flow throughout the first half. The Lakers controlled the inside play and that's where they did most of their scoring while St. Clair did their damage from 10 feet and beyond. At halftime, the score was tied at 27.
Early in the third quarter, Lakeland missed several close range shots and St. Clair was able to push their lead to 4 points. As the old adage goes, when the offense is struggling, let the defense lead the way. That's exactly what Lakeland did beginning with about 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter. At that time, Lakeland put on a devastating press that gave St. Clair fits for the rest of the quarter. With the strong defensive pressure, offensive opportunities began to flow and the shots started to fall. By the end of the 3rd quarter, Lakeland had built up a 52-40 advantage. The fourth quarter was more of the same as Lakeland's press made it difficult for St. Clair to even inbound the ball at times – let alone bring it up the floor. Lakeland built their lead up to 20 with about 5 minutes to play and then coasted the rest of the way.
Lakeland had four players score in double figures. Armani Jackson led the Lakers with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 steals while Rayonna Peterson added 18 points and 9 boards. Makayla Cooper finished with 15 points and 6 steals and Gianna Pegoraro tallied 14 points and 4 rebounds. Dior Morgan finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds. St. Clair was led by Keishawna McGruder who scored 24 points in the defeat.
Players "Holiday" Perspectives:
Rayonna Peterson – "For me, holidays are family times when everyone comes to our house, eats, and exchanges gifts. I really enjoy it. My favorite gift is always money!"
Triniti Lee – "I'm looking forward to seeing my family as I only get to see them over the holidays." As for interesting gifts, "I'm not a board game person, but my mom gets me one every year. I guess it's a good thing because I
have a collection now."
Gianna Pegoraro – "I'm looking forward to spending time with my family and giving my gifts to my family members. I can't tell you what they are right now as it has to remain a secret. I will also work out some over the break
and continue to work on my game." An interesting tradition, "Each year, we open one gift on Christmas eve. We get to pick the gift. I always choose a mid-size present – not the big or the small ones."
Julie Hajdu – "I'm looking forward to the break as I'm going to Virginia to visit one of my best friends. I'm also very excited for the food on Christmas. I turn 20 on 12/30!" Everyone - please remember to wish Julie a Happy
Makayla Cooper – Best story: "One time when I was little I broke the Christmas tree. My mom made me draw a picture of a Christmas tree. She then put the picture on a wall and that was our tree for the year. When I came down, all of our presents were under the pictured tree. I'll never forget that!"
Gardy's Gab: "We got off to a very slow start. St. Clair's pressure bothered us a little bit. I had to ask some of the other players to do a little more than usual as we were missing Julie. Fortunately, we were able to pick it up in the second half. There was a better defensive effort there." On the holiday break, "I'm looking forward to some family time and some time to relax. This will also allow me time to get out and recruit. I look forward to watching some high school games over the break."
Next Up: The Lady Lakers will be off for a holiday break before starting the second semester off with a home game on Wednesday, January 8 against Bryant and Stratton. Game time is at 5:30 pm and admission is free. The Lakers will then hit the road on Saturday, January 11th to take on the Sinclair Tartans at 1pm.