Before the final regular and conference finale, the Lakeland girls’ basketball team played one more non-conference game on Tuesday night.
The Thunderbirds fell 55-50 to Wittenberg-Birnamwood.
“They do a nice job of interior passing from one post player to the other,” coach Melissa Ouimette said. “Emma Herb and Abi Fraaza did an excellent job of working inside and sealing. If they didn’t get the pass and easy layup they got the rebound.”
Julianna Ouimette got the scoring going with a coast-to-coast basket followed by another quick score. But it was the Chargers with the early 10-4 lead.
Abby Parris knocked down her first 3-pointer of the night. Then she scored two points taking it to the paint.
Amaya White got in the action herself with a score off the backboard, drawing the foul. She made the free throw and kept pace with the Chargers. She finished with 10 points and six rebounds.
Joeli Koehler took it to the rim and scored. Parris followed that up with a basket, assisted by Julianna Ouimette.
The Chargers took their second timeout. The Thunderbirds led 18-16 with 8:27 left in the half.
Then the Thunderbirds started to go cold from the field. Over the next three and a half minutes, the Thunderbirds went scoreless, but did hold the Chargers to just two points over that span.
“Offensively we were just a little stagnant. We weren’t passing the ball and attacking as much as we liked,” coach Ouimette said. “(The Chargers) went from a man-to-man to a 3-2 to 2-3. We had a little troubling adjusting to that.”
Parris got the ball rolling with three straight baskets. First she scored on a step-back 3-pointer. Then, off a pass from Julianna Ouimette, she scored two points on the fast break. After a Lakeland steal, Julianna Ouimette passed it again to Parris for the two points.
“Julianna and Abby work very well together. They get steals and fast breaks,” coach Ouimette said. “Several of those fast breaks are Julianna in the middle and pushing it up the court and there were a few steals as well.”
Parris finished with a team-high 16 points on 7 of 14 shooting. The Thunderbirds led 25-20 with 2:07 left.
A nice succession of passes set-up Vivian Trapp for the quick pass in the paint to Koehler for two points.
The Chargers ended the half on an 8-3 run to tie it up at 28-28 at half.
“Herb’s tough to get around and then Fraaza is just a very good athlete than can jump, leap and get those rebounds,” coach Ouimette said.
The first points of the second half was a lob pass to Koehler from Julianna Ouimette for two points. Then White made two free throws.
Parris took it to the paint for two points and Trapp scored a basket.
The Thunderbirds were on a run and led 38-32.
The Chargers used a lot of points in the paint to fuel their mini comeback. They used their size to the advantage and made lots of layups. They were on a 10-2 run and led 42-40.
“They just tore us up on the inside and took nice close shots at the rim,” coach Ouimette said. “They didn’t kill us from the outside. It was an inside game and we couldn’t keep them out.”
Together, Emma Herb and Abi Fraaza combined for 37 points on 16 made field goals, in addition to numerous rebounds.
Julianna Ouimette went coast-to-coast for two points and then hit a big-time 3-pointer to keep the Thunderbirds in it. She finished with 13 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and four steals.
The Chargers still led 52-47 with three minutes left.
Then, White answered a Charger basket with a huge 3-pointer that made it a one-score game, 53-50, with 1:31 remaining. The Thunderbirds got a stop and focused on taking the best shot possible.
“Whatever presents itself — if you got the two take it, we still got 1:31 left,” coach Ouimette said. “We have some excellent three-point shooters so I don’t mind a 3-point shot. I would have been happy if we would have done either.”
With an opportunity to tie or cut into the lead, the Thunderbirds turned the ball over. On defense, the Thunderbirds caused a jump ball, with the possession arrow favoring them.
With time running down, Parris stepped out of bounds to turn it over on offense once again with 19.1 seconds to go. The Chargers made both of their free throws to seal it.
Up next, the Thunderbirds play their regular season finale against Mosinee tonight at Ted Voigt Court. Tip-off is set for 6 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]