The Lakeland girls’ basketball team returned home for the first time in a little less than a month for a conference game against Northland Pines.
The Thunderbirds beat the Eagles 64-28 for their first victory of the new year.
“We couldn’t wait to get home and play at home in front of our home crowd,” coach Melissa Ouimette said. “The girls were excited and couldn’t wait to get out there.”
It was a slow start for the Thunderbirds. Amaya White and Julianna Ouimette both scored, but the Eagles had a 7-5 lead to start the game.
“Pines had spent a considerable time on taking charges and the girls got a little nervous to drive and penetrate,” coach Ouimette said.
It didn’t take long before the Thunderbirds found their groove.
“Once they figured out they didn’t need to worry about that (taking offensive charges), then things started clicking pretty quickly,” coach Ouimette said.
Julianna Ouimette went coast-to-coast for a basket and a foul. She made her free throw. Then, she got fouled and made both of free throws.
The 6-0 run gave the Thunderbirds a quick 11-7 lead as Pines took their first timeout.
“The one thing about our team is we play in spurts. Once we get one or two steals, the other team gets down a little and it picks us up just a little bit,” coach Ouimette said.
Jenna Whitman got in the scoring action with a coast-to-coast layup. She ended up scoring six points in the contest.
“(Jenna) had a very nice game,” coach Ouimette said. “I’m going to be looking to get her more and more minutes.”
Next, Julianna Ouimette hit one of her two 3-pointers on an assist from Vivian Trapp.
Hailey Curtis scored her first points of the night on a 3-pointer, followed by another Julianna Ouimette basket.
Curtis and Whitman were amongst the leaders of a bench that came alive on Friday night.
“I need more minutes from the bench because they’re going to be a big part of how far we go in the playoffs,” coach Ouimette said.
The Eagles took their second timeout. The Thunderbirds jumped out to a 26-9 lead thanks to a 21-2 run.
“We always keep working hard till we get that steal which leads to another steal, which leads to a score and keeps building,” coach Ouimette said.
Coming off the timeout, Abby Parris hit a 3-pointer. She later got four quick points on fast break buckets, both assisted by White. The Thunderbirds’ defense was forcing multiple turnovers.
White made two free throws before the end of the half. The Thunderbirds led 43-15 at the break.
Julianna Ouimette stayed aggressive in the second half. She finished perfect from the field — 13/13 for 32 points. She was 11/11 from two and 2/2 from beyond the arc. She also chipped in four rebounds, seven assists, eight steals and three blocks.
With 8:28 left to go in the game, the Thunderbirds held a 55-24 lead. Whitman scored two more baskets late in the second half, one assisted by Julianna Ouimette.
Leading her team in rebounds, Trapp also scored in the second half. She led the team with nine rebounds. She also had two assists and three steals.
Parris went coast-to-coast for two more points as the Thunderbirds finished off the Eagles for the win.
“They keep working hard and thinking positively and working hard and good things will start to happen,” coach Ouimette said.
Their next game comes tonight at Mosinee starting at 7:45 p.m. Coverage of that game will be in the Jan. 17 edition of The Times
Then, they host Medford Friday, Jan. 17 starting at 7:15 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]