February 01, 2012 - Slow starts have plagued the Lake Orion girls' basketball team much of the season.
Lake Orion senior Laura Turnbull shoots the ball over an Oxford defender. Photo by J. St. Henry (click for larger version)
The Lady Dragons could not overcome their first quarter struggles on January 24 against Oxford, but played through early frustration and dominated Troy Athens three nights later.
Competing at home against the Wildcats, Lake Orion fell behind 7-0 en route to a 12-6 deficit at the end of the first quarter. Despite defensive adjustments, the team was down by 12 at the half, 24-12.
"Oxford was on top of their game," Head Coach Steve Roberts said. "Anything we tried to do, they countered."
The Lady Dragons shot only 5-15 and Oxford dominated on boards, as well, with a commanding 18-4 rebounding advantage at halftime.
Lake Orion's frustrations were compounded by Oxford's buzzer beater baskets to end both quarters, including a three-pointer.
"We had the ball at the end of both quarters," Roberts said. "But we shot too early, Oxford got the ball, ran down the clock and then hit those baskets. Those killed us."
Lake Orion started the third quarter with a 6-2 run to cut the lead to 26-18, but only scored two more points during the next four minutes and were down 30-20 going into the last quarter.
Sensing their first victory over Lake Orion in years, the Wildcats began the final period with an 8-0 run and the game was effectively over. The home team hit only one basket in the fourth quarter and lost to Oxford, 42-25.
"This is an emotional game," Roberts said. "When you miss shots, the tension rises and that affects your team's rebounding and defense. You've got to fight through the frustration, but it isn't easy."
Lake Orion senior Marissa Secontine scored 11 points with five blocked shots against Oxford. Junior Emilie Kipp finished with six points and six rebounds.
The head coach told his team to focus on the positives from the loss, including only 11 Lake Orion turnovers, in preparing for their game against Troy Athens on Jan. 27.
"Losing like that (to Oxford) makes you want to win even more," he said.
Once again, however, the Lady Dragons started out slow. After the Red Hawks began the game with a three-point basket, Lake Orion looked energized but did not score on its first few possessions.
The team kept its poise and ran its offense, though, and went on a 16-4 run. Lake Orion led by seven at the end of the first quarter.
"When you get a couple of key baskets or stops early in the game, that really picks up the emotional energy," the head coach noted.
"I thought we handled their defensive pressure well and applied our own effectively. When you execute the press, you get turnovers and easy baskets."
Roberts' team continued to control the boards and patiently ran its offense in the second quarter, highlighted by the long-range outside shooting of sophomore Melanie Gagen. At halftime, Lake Orion led 41-20.
The Lady Dragon reserves played heavily in the second half of the game, but the team continued to play well, especially on defense, limiting the Red Hawks to 12 points in the final two quarters. The game ended with Lake Orion winning, 50-32.
All of Lake Orion's players scored against Troy Athens, lead by Secontine's 15 points and senior Laura Turnbull's nine. Junior Melanie Heath had a team-leading seven rebounds.
This week, Lake Orion (8-5, 5-3 OAA Red) plays at Rochester on Thursday, Feb. 2. Roberts said he expects a tough game, with the Falcons on a two-game winning streak against Oxford and Farmington.