Those who follow basketball know that when playoffs roll around and two very good, very competitive teams meet, it often becomes a game of seconds that can go either way in the blink of an eye. For the LHS girls basketball squad, reaching the State Championship Quarterfinals meant that they would find themselves in that exact situation... twice.
On Thursday, March 2, the #9 ranked Lady Honkers squared off against the #1 ranked Banks Braves at North Bend High School near Coos Bay and it was the type of contest that basketball fans love to see. The first quarter of action was about as close as you can get, with both the Honkers and the Braves proving without a doubt that they belonged in the post-season. Neither team gave even an inch to their opponent and after a hard-fought quarter of play the score was 11-10 in favor of the Braves. At this point, it was anyone’s game and the spectators and players alike surely knew that they were in for a war.
By the end of the first half, the Braves had opened up the slightest bit of breathing room, going into the break with a 21-16 lead over the Honkers. Lakeview would respond by making the third quarter theirs, playing some great team basketball and outscoring Banks 13-6, taking a two-point lead into the final period. About halfway through the fourth quarter, LHS took a tough hit when senior guard Karlee Vickerman picked up her fifth foul and fouled out of the game, but two of Lakeview’s bench players — junior forward Fernanda Inzunza and senior guard Bridget Shullanberger — would step up for the Honkers and help keep them right in the game.
With only seconds remaining — and the score tied at 34 — the Braves inbounded the ball on their own baseline to one of their star players, Madison Walker, who was able sink a short jumper at the buzzer for the win. “We took the eventual state champs right down to the buzzer,” Head Coach Cody Blair stated.
Senior forward Tyler McNeley was the top scorer for the team with 12 points and also had five rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. Junior forward Kenna Stratton put up eight points to go along with an outstanding 19 rebounds and three blocks, while Vickerman was able to notch six points and a steal before having to leave the game. Shullanberger and Inzunza both tallied three points and two steals. Senior guard Breanna Strubel and senior guard Savannah Greenfield both had tough games, combining for only two points, but were able to contribute a total of five assists and four steals on the night.
Losing to the Braves meant that the Honkers fell to the consolation bracket of the tournament and faced the #4 ranked Amity Warriors on Friday, March 3 at Marshfield High School in Coos Bay. Once again, the game would be an all-out battle and would come down to the wire. LHS held a 22-17 lead at halftime, but Amity came out in the second half and outscored Lakeview 15-12 in the third and 17-12 in the fourth, securing themselves the win by a final score of 49-46.
Stratton led the way for the Honkers — scoring 16 points to go along with 12 rebounds, four assists, and six steals — while Greenfield also put together a decent game with 12 points, five rebounds, and two steals. Strubel and McNeley both had seven points, while Strubel also snagged three steals and McNeley was able haul in 12 rebounds, two steals, and a block. Vickerman was the only other player to score, tallying four points to go along with four rebounds and four steals.
“We battled during both games of the state tournament,” Coach Blair said. “Both games were extremely close and could have gone either way. The outcomes were not in our favor, but I was proud of the way we represented ourselves and the school.”
Although the season ended without a state placing, this year’s team of Lady Honkers most certainly has nothing to be ashamed of regarding their performance. They played great basketball all season and should be proud of themselves and their accomplishments. And though senior players Strubel, McNeley, Greenfield, Vickerman, and Shullanberger will be moving on now, the future of LHS girls basketball looks very promising. With players like Stratton and Inzunza ready to pick up the reins and provide that senior leadership to up-and-comers such as sophomores Sofia Zendejas and Skyla Samples and freshmen Kamry Stratton, Paige Owens, and Ashlynn Shullanberger... the competition better watch out because Lakeview will be bringing the heat next season.
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