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T-Birds finish second in GNC
The Lakeland girls’ basketball team put together one of the best seasons in the Great Northern Conference in a season full of fun games and performances.
The Thunderbirds finished with a 15-8 overall record, 9-3 in conference to finish in second place. They were second in conference averaging 64.9 points and their points allowed ranked fourth at 42.7.
“It’s always an accomplishment to finish second in conference,” coach Melissa Ouimette said. “We’d love to win first.”
There were a number of injuries and sickness that put the girls through a lot of adversity throughout the season.
“The way the girls handled that showed their true character and their toughness and they’re going to persevere,” coach Ouimette said.
Captains Vivian Trapp and Abby Parris provided leadership and set the tone for the season. Their experience in the program provided guidance to others on and off the court.
On the court, Parris averaged 14.6 conference points per game and 3.1 steals. She was fourth in conference with a 56% field goal percentage and second in 3-pointers per game with 2.2. These marks, along with her leadership, helped her achieve first team all-conference. Parris broke the school record with 134 career 3-point field goals.
“She would stretch out the defense,” coach Ouimette said. “Having Abby in there stressed that defense just a little bit more so we are gonna miss her.”
Trapp received honorable mention all-conference. She averaged 3.3 points per game while accumulating 50 rebounds, 43 assists and 16 steals in conference.
“She did everything that nobody would sign up to do,” coach Ouimette said. “She got key rebounds, got us going in transition.”
As seniors, both Parris and Trapp showed that experience and leadership. On the other side of the spectrum, a freshman showed she will be one of the state’s best in the years to come.
Julianna Ouimette showed her value on the team by doing it all — she averaged 21.4 points per game, 6.9 assists, seven rebounds, 7.9 steals and 1.7 blocks. Her 6.9 assists were second in the state of Wisconsin and her 7.9 steals were first.
“There were times where she took over the game — got the rebound, got the steal without any regard,” coach Ouimette said.
Those numbers were good to garner honorable mention all-state as well as a unanimous first team all-conference. She’ll be one to keep an eye on over the course of her career.
Junior Amaya White received honorable mention all-conference. She averaged 10.8 points per game in conference play and was third on the team with 14 3-pointers.
“Amaya White is a super smart player,” coach Ouimette said. “When her shot’s on she can shoot the lights out.”
Other juniors Camille Quade and Joeli Koehler played at the traditional forward position. Before her injury, Quade averaged 6.2 points per game and grabbed 37 rebounds.
“Camille does a great job of defense in the middle there and get position to get those rebounds,” coach Ouimette said. “Joeli did a fantastic job of getting some rebounds for us and getting to the rim and getting some points on the board for us.”
Koehler stepped in the starting role for Quade and averaged 7.4 points per game while shooting 58% from the field, a mark that ranked third in conference. Her breakout game came Feb. 11 against Rhinelander, where she scored a career high 23 points on 10 field goals.
Coming off the bench, the Thunderbirds used three key girls to provide minutes.
Hailey Curtis shot well from the outside with nine made 3-pointers and 3.4 points per game in conference. Jenna Whitman drove to the rim for her points and averaged 2.3 points per game. Tiearney Beltz provided some depth at the forward position and used her size to get rebounds and play tight defense.
As a team, Lakeland averaged 25 rebounds, sixth best in conference. Their 17.6 assists ranked first, 18 steals third and 57% free throw percentage third.
The team also broke some records. They broke the record for 3-pointers in a game with 15 against Antigo on Dec. 12. Within that game, they set the record for two-point field goal percentage of 68% and 3-point field goal percentage of 75%.
In addition to that, the team set the record for two-point field percentage in a season at 55.6% and assists per game at 16.
Some of the season highlights included a sweep of Medford over the season, a team that finished fourth in the GNC. Another win came against Mosinee in the regular season finale on Feb. 21 with a 64-52 win, a team that finished third in the GNC.
One can’t go far without recognizing their outstanding game Dec. 12 at Antigo. The Thunderbirds shot 15/20 from three and won the game 90-47.
“I would have to say one of the most exciting points of the season came out in that Antigo game. And we could not miss. Everything we shot went in,” coach Ouimette said. “For a coach to experience something like that is truly amazing.”
On Dec. 14 at home against Shawano, Parris scored her 1,000th career point, helping her team to a 71-47 victory.
“I feel the team went that extra mile trying to get her the ball on the fast break and baseline corner,” coach Ouimette said. “They were all so happy and the student section came out and team embraced her accomplishments through her career and it was great.”
Even though it was a loss, on Jan. 3 at Rhinelander the Thunderbirds played one of their best games in a 72-69 loss.
“We were up and had a couple turnovers and ended up losing in the last 57 seconds. It wasn’t like the first team took it to us. We were right there till the very end,” coach Ouimette said.
The season ended in a regional playoff game to Mosinee on Feb. 28. Both teams split games in the regular season. Just one week earlier, Lakeland had beaten Mosinee. It’s hard to beat a team in back-to-back games and that proved correct when Mosinee won 65-61.
“I think the hardest part was Abby rolled her ankle the previous week and (we were) trying to put some new things in,” coach Ouimette said. “Playing a team three times (in a season) is tough. We played them twice in a week. All of that coming together hurt us a little bit.”
Despite the loss, it’s a season they’ll never forget.
“Lots of things that the girls went through and experienced and the way they persevered and went through it is encouraging for the future,” coach Ouimette said.