The NJCAA's 13th ranked Lakeland Lakers continue to find ways to win. Lakeland typically enjoys a dominating inside performance that is nicely supported by strong guard play, but tonight, that game plan had to change. The Cuyahoga CC Triceratops visited Laker gym tonight and they appeared to have a game plan focused on shutting down Lakelands exceptional post play. So the Lakers adapted and were led by exceptional guard play that helped lead to a nice inside presence down the stretch. In this game, it appeared that Lakeland was figuring out the new way to victory as the game went on. At the end of the first quarter the Lakers led 13-10. They increased the lead to 8 at the half; 34-26. They held an 11 point lead at the end of the third quarter before picking up their play even more and finished going away with a 20 point 72-52 victory. With the win, Lakeland improves to 16-1 on the season and 5-0 in league play. Cuyahoga falls to 10-4 and 1-3 in conference play.
In this game, the Lakers were led by the guard play of Gianna Pegoraro, Julie Hajdu, and Makayla Cooper. Cooper led all scorers with 20 points on 6-12 shooting from the field. She added 5 rebounds in the game. Pegoraro finished with 19 points on 7-16 shooting while adding 7 rebounds. Julie Hajdu handled the ball fabulously throughout often making strong drives to the hole while mixing in some nice passes. She finished with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. Armani Jackson (11 points) and Rayonna Peterson (8 pounts and 9 rebounds) continued their overall strong play. Dior Morgan continued her strong defense plays collecting 3 steals while Triniti Lee had 3 boards and 1 key block as Cuyahoga was looking to make a run in the 3rd quarter.
Gianna Pegoraro - "At first it was close; but I think we did better as the game went along. We really did a nice job of sharing the ball tonight. I'm proud of how we stepped up; especially in the second half. I'm proud of our team."
Makayla Cooper - "This was a tough win. They took away our inside game which is where we usually excel. We really had to find another way to win which we didn't expect. It was a good win for our team."
Rayonna Peterson - "We started off slow, but were able to pick it up in the 3rd and 4th quarters. I felt the defense progressed toward the end; we need to do that the whole game though. We will keep working on it; it's definitely a work in progress.
Gardy's Gab: "I thought we were a little too selfish in transition tonight. We just didn't have great composure throughout, but credit Cuyahoga as they made us play that way in certain situations. They tried to take away our inside play but Julie, Gianna, and Makayla really stepped up. We've got to turn the page now and get ready for a challenging Columbus State - we've got to keep improving."
Next up: On Saturday, the Lakers will travel to Columbus State to play the Cougars at 1pm. Lakeland will then return home next Wednesday, 1/29, to play the Owens CC Express at 5:30 pm. Admission is free.