The Press Newspaper
Everyone in the Owens Community College Student Activities Center gymnasium figured Lake star Kaysie Brittenham would take the last shot.
Following a timeout, Brittenham, the Flyers' All-Suburban Lakes League senior and leading scorer, flashed toward the lane with teammate Hannah Cox trailing right on her heels.
Senior Carly Huston, however, didn't inbound the ball to Brittenham, who was acting as a decoy. Huston threw the ball to Cox in the left corner, and the junior guard lofted a 3-pointer just before the buzzer sounded.
“I yelled, 'that's in!,” said Lake coach Denny Meyer, who drew up the play. “It looked perfect. The girls ran it to perfection.”
Cox's clutch shot gave the Flyers a heart-stopping 36-33 victory over Genoa, their biggest SLL rival, last Friday to extend Lake's regular-season winning streak to 54 straight games.
The Flyers, who are ranked fourth in this week's Division III state poll, improved to 11-0 and 5-0 in the league while the 10th-ranked Comets fell to 11-1 and 4-1. The rematch is Feb. 17 at Genoa.
“Somebody had to lose,” first-year Genoa coach Mike DeStazio said. “Unfortunately it was us. It was a great shot by Cox. I don't know how Denny drew it up, but if I'm a betting man, that ball was supposed to get into Brittenham's hands. We did everything we thought we should do to keep her from beating us. The girl that beat us, that would not be the girl you expect to beat you. I still believe the way we played that was correct.”
Meyer estimated the attendance last Friday to be anywhere from 1,000-1,200 people in Owens' 1,400-seat venue.
“It was packed,” Meyer said. “We played in front of that many in the district finals last year against Liberty-Benton, and we've probably had that many for other Lake-Genoa games.”
DeStazio said the game had a regional tournament-type atmosphere.
“It was a great high school girls’ basketball game,” he said. “What an opportunity for both teams to be able to play in a game like that. You don't get to do that very often.”
The Flyers are averaging a modest 45 points a game while holding opponents to 29 points a game. Meyer said his players didn't play tight against Genoa, but he admitted they are struggling offensively.
“We're struggling to score right now, especially when teams zone us,” he said. “We had a 13-4 lead after the first quarter and then Genoa went to a 2-3 zone after that. Everybody is taking Kaysie away and making it hard on her, and no one is shooting the ball real well right now.”
Brittenham is averaging 17.5 points and 7.7 rebounds a game, and Huston averages 10.3 points and 7.3 rebounds. Cox averages 6.4 points and leads the team with 39 assists. Lake's other two starters, sophomore Alyssa Shaffer and junior Hunter Johnson, are averaging 4.5 and 3.8 points per game, respectively.
“We need people to step up, because every team is trying to take Kaysie away,” Meyer said. “She still gets her points, but everybody is making it harder on her. We tell our kids they have to be basketball players and find their open spots. That's what we want them to get better at.”
Genoa bounced back from the loss to hand visiting Gibsonburg a 69-39 loss on Tuesday. DeStazio said it took his players a while to put the Lake loss behind them.