December 07, 2011 - By Joe St. Henry
SeniorMarissa Secontine shoots versus Linden. Photo by J. St. Henry (click for larger version)
After thumping Linden in its opening game of the season last week, Lake Orion's girls' varsity basketball team got a taste of its own medicine three nights later, losing big to rival Clarkston.
The two games showed Head Coach Steve Roberts his team still has to gel, especially given the fact that it is already fighting injuries and a number of players had limited practice time before the season due to the school's run to the state volleyball finals.
"I know we're experienced but, at the same time, we lack experience (playing together)," he said. "We're about a week behind in where I'd like to be preparation wise for games, due to injuries and the late start. But the season started and some of our players were thrown into the fire."
The Lady Dragons' season began on a positive note against Linden. Lake Orion was the aggressor from the opening tipoff. Roberts said the team ran its offense well and protected the ball, particularly in the first half. They led from the start and had a 12 point lead at halftime, which was stretched to 16 at the end of the third quarter. When the final buzzer sounded, Lake Orion recorded a 45-29 win.
Still, the head coach said his team had too many turnovers in the second half for his liking, produced by Linden's scrappy defense. "We need to take care of the ball better under pressure," Roberts explained, while noting he was pleased with Lake Orion's overall performance.
Roberts was particularly happy with the strong play of the team's "Big Three" upfront against Linden, featuring seniors Marissa Secontine and Laura Turnbull, and junior Emilie Kipp. Turnbull led the team with 14 points, while Secontine scored a double-double against the Eagles, with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
The Lady Dragons' first game also featured the debut of freshman point guard Hannah Hamay. "She took care of the ball and ran the floor well," Roberts said.
On Friday, the head coach's concerns with the team's ability to handle defensive pressure came to fruition against the deep and experienced Wolves. Clarkston is the favorite to win the OAA Red Division this year and it showed why from the start against Lake Orion, opening with an 8-0 run.
Strong defense, ball movement and shooting by Clarkston put Lake Orion in a 12-5 hole after the first quarter and the Wolves' seemingly never slowed down, stretching the lead to 27-12 at half. Clarkston stymied Lake Orion's offense even more in the second half, limiting the Dragons to a total of five points during the final two quarters, while the Wolves' offense heated up leading to an easy 53-17 victory.
Lake Orion finished 7-37 from the field, with 26 turnovers (18 in second half). It is hard to beat any team with those stats, Roberts said, let alone playing a school like Clarkston. Secontine lead Lake Orion with eight points.
"We've got to get early shots that drop," the coach said. "When you make some baskets, it makes all the difference in the world. It pumps the team up and helps you win the emotional battle."
Moving forward, Roberts could not stress enough the importance of protecting the ball better. This includes not only the player dribbling the ball, but also the "other four players who have to be in the right spots and work together – another result of gelling," he said.
Lake Orion played Waterford Kettering in a non-league game on Tuesday. The Captains finished 18-2 last year. This Friday, the Lady Dragons play at home versus Notre Dame Prep.