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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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Denny Meyer doesn't have a lot to complain about these days.

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    Kaysie Brittenham

The second-year Lake girls’ basketball coach, whose team is ranked eighth in this week's Division III state poll, has the Flyers off to a 13-0 start.

Meyer is also a proud papa. His daughter Kimberly is a starting senior guard and leads Lake in assists with 3.3 per game. Meyer's daughter Michelle coaches the Flyers' 13-0 junior varsity team, and his daughter Stephanie has coached the seventh grade team to a 12-0 mark.

Denny Meyer is proud for another reason: his team's unselfish play.

"I like their work ethic and how unselfish they are," he said. "We have a lot of older people from our community come to our games and they'll come up and tell me that's what they like about our team. They say that's how it was when they were growing up, that teams were so unselfish. That shows in our scoring, how we can have a different leading scorer every night."

The Flyers are averaging 54 points a game, but that number is somewhat skewed because they usually have such a big lead in the fourth quarter that Lake's reserves get lots of playing time.

The Flyers gave up 23 points against Swanton on Tuesday and allowed 24 against Elmwood on Jan. 21. Gibsonburg managed 30 points against Lake on Jan. 18, and in the biggest game of the Suburban Lakes League season to date, Genoa committed 27 turnovers in a 51-40 loss at Lake on Jan. 15.

"We felt very good going into that game," Meyer said. "We felt our pressure could hurt them, and it did. I'm sure the second time around they will try to get ready for our pressure defense. That's why we're trying to mix up our defenses right now."

Through Thursday, the Flyers led the SLL with a 7-0 mark followed by the Comets at 7-1. The two teams meet in the regular-season finale on Feb. 18 at Genoa.

"We're forcing 26 turnovers a game and we try to be in the 20s every game," Meyer said. "I would guess we're scoring at least 20 points off those turnovers. Our big thing is, we like to pressure teams. We feel we're very athletic. We rely on outside shooting a lot. With that, you never know how that's going to be, so we make sure we keep up the tough defense. If we are having a bad shooting night, we can get the turnovers and get easy layups."

Junior do-everything player Kaysie Brittenham, who scored her team's first 17 points in the win over Genoa, averages 5.1 rebounds a game and leads the Flyers in scoring at 16.8 points per game.

The 5-9 guard, who has long arms and good jumping ability, is a two-time first-team All-SLL and all-district performer.

"We have a lot of different people who have led us in scoring," Meyer said, "but a lot of our offensive sets center around Kaysie. Everybody knows that, I would think. The key for her scoring is because of the way we pressure teams. She's usually the one who rotates on the trap, and she gets a lot of easy baskets that way."

Jessica Abbey, a 5-7 junior wing, is Lake's only other player averaging double-figure scoring, at 10.3 points per game. Meyer said Abbey, who also averages 2.9 assists, is having a "great season" and has been steady all year.

"She plays steady defense against the top guards every night," Meyer said. "She's one of our top offensive rebounders and she just does all the little things for us. Jessica is a smart player and a leader on the court. After 10 games, we made her a captain along with Kaysie, Kimberly and Kayla Reilly."

Kimberly Meyer leads the Flyers in assists at 3.3 per game and pretty much acts like a second coach on the court.

"A lot of times we'll be laughing on the bench because, right before I call out a play, she's already calling the same play I was going to call," coach Meyer said. "A lot of it is just from talking. We'll talk on the ride home from practice and she knows what I want done. She's been playing for me since she was 10 years old, so she knows the game and she knows exactly what I'm looking for."

Junior post Drew Plummer, who averages a team-best 7.3 rebounds a game, defends the opponent's best insider player.

"We tell her we'd like to see her outrebound the post from the other team, and she takes on that challenge," Meyer said. "She's so athletic and she holds back a lot of times, but she's attacking the basket now and playing with a lot of confidence."

Reilly, a 5-11 senior post, and Plummer were backups last season but have stepped up their games this season, according to Meyer.

"Last year Kayla and Drew were backing up Heather (Cox) and Lauren (Lind), so I think they really felt they weren't needed," Meyer said. "This year we told them how important they were. At first I don't know if they took that challenge, but they have lately. We made Kayla a captain and she's continued to be a great leader for us."

Lake, which took a 36-game regular-season winning streak into its Jan. 29 game against Otsego, will look to improve on its 41-percent shooting from the field and 61-percent shooting from the free throw line in the next few weeks.

Meyer said he isn't concerned.

"We keep getting better," he said. "Our first few games, we weren't shooting very good at all. The last few games, we've shot over 70 percent from the line. We're getting to the line more because teams are taking our perimeter shooting away, so we're taking it to the basket and getting fouled."

To prepare for what they hope is a long run in the postseason, the Flyers are experimenting with different defensive looks. Last year, Lake went 20-0 for the first time in school history and reached the Division III district finals, where they lost to Liberty-Benton. The unbeaten Eagles are now the top-ranked team in the state.

"We started (Tuesday) night by mixing in some different defenses," Meyer said. "We've been a full-court, man-to-man team and drop back into a man-to-man. We've started working on zone traps and a zone full-court defense. To go very far this year, we're going to have to switch up our defenses."

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