The Lakeland girls’ basketball team earned a convincing Great Northern Conference victory at home Friday night, when they defeated Medford, 59-40.
Lakeland jumped out to an early 15-8 lead in the first quarter, and opened up a 33-17 lead at the half.
Medford stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring Lakeland 13-4 and narrowing the gap to 37-30. The Thunderbirds were able to hold off the attack, and played a strong fourth quarter on the way to a 59-40 victory.
Head coach Kellen Anderson said the girls handled a tough third quarter well, even when things weren’t going there way.
“We were getting into trouble there,” Anderson said. “We had a 16-point lead at the half, and they had it to within eight in about three minutes. It got to at least four at one point, and in that situation, all the pressure is on you. Your heart is beating, your palms are sweating, you’re just hoping every ball is going into the basket, and you’re pressing.”
As Anderson said, Becca Butkus knocked down a pair of shots around a Medford basket to keep Lakeland’s lead alive, which gave the team a spark.
“That was big, to keep that nine-point lead going,” he said. “She had a big two minutes there.”
Butkus finished the night with nine points. Abby Schrom led Lakeland with 13 points, and added 11 rebounds. Clara Schroeder scored 10 points, and added eight assists, five rebounds, and four steals.
Macey Smith and Lilith Schuman each scored six points for Lakeland, Sharon LaBarge added four, and Jamie Haertle scored three.
Hannah Hallstrom scored eight points and added six rebounds on the night, in a performance Anderson said was her best this season.
“That was by far the best game that she’s had,” Anderson said. “I think she learned that when she comes out with the right mindset, the girl can really play some basketball.”
Hallstrom had a strong second half when Lakeland was struggling, and made several hustle plays to keep Lakeland in the game.
“It wasn’t just that she was hitting a shot or two, she was making good decisions with the ball, she was boxing out like a beast, it was just a great performance,” Anderson said.
Schroeder had another strong performance for Lakeland, filling in the statsheet in multiple areas and leading the team with her hustle.
“She just does all the little things, all the dirty work for us,” Anderson said.
As Anderson said, he doesn’t know if Schroeder receives the respect she deserves from the rest of the conference.
“I don’t know how many coaches in the conference think of her as a really good player, but we’d be lost without her,” he said. “She really does everything. If we need her to score on a night, she scores. She’s always going to rebound, she’s always going to bust her butt on defense, she just plays hard.”
Lakeland is now 8-6 (3-3 GNC) on the season. The Thunderbirds have the week off before taking on Tomahawk at home Friday night.
Jim Oxley may be reached via email at email@example.com.