CORTLAND — South Range’s stifling defense, combined with 20 points by senior Alexis Giles, were too much for Lakeview to overcome Thursday night.
In a low-scoring, defensive battle, the Bulldogs struggled to find the offense they needed against the Raiders’ pressure, falling 35-16.
“Their defense shut us down,” Lakeview head coach Kevin Haynie said. “It’s hard for us to replicate in practice and Poland’s going to do the same thing (to us). Poland and South Range are going to put athletes on you and they’re going to make you earn every bucket and they’re going to pressure defense everywhere. We have to somehow give our girls that look in practice and improve, but it’s hard to do.”
Haynie said they knew South Range would be aggressive defensively, and the Bulldogs struggled to score against the variety of defensive looks that the Raiders threw at them, mustering just two points in each the first and third quarters.
Coming in, the Bulldogs were averaging 37.5 points through their first six games of the season en route to a 3-3 start. But, South Range’s defense held them to less than half their season scoring average. Junior Maggie Pavlansky scored six points to lead Lakeview, while Gianna Caruso had five points and junior Brooke Schneider had three. Sophomore Makenna Werner also had a bucket for the Bulldogs.
The Raiders started off in an extended three-quarters court zone that alternated between a 2-3 and a 2-2-1 and then also switched between man-to-man and zone in the half court sets throughout the game.
“We’re starting to get back to the full gameplan of defense that we like to play,” South Range head coach Jeff Fishel said. “We haven’t had many practices together yet, so we haven’t put in our full court press and half court trap yet. We’re kind of piecing it together practice by practice. This is the first time we’ve had a couple nights between games so (this week) we really got to work on it, but it’s not all the way there yet.”
“We saw a lot of things we need to fix,” Fishel continued, “but we just like to try to keep our opponent off balance and our defensive pressure allows us to be creative in what we do.”
South Range had been waiting for a performance like Thursday night’s from Giles.
Giles scored 16 of the Raiders’ 20 first half points, including hitting four 3-pointers, as she did most of the heavy lifting for the offense early on.
“It’s important because in low-scoring games…it gave us that little bit of separation to where we could be comfortable with what we wanted to do defensively and we didn’t have to force anything on offense,” Fishel said. “Anytime you can do that, with the way we play defense, it just kind of helps things build for us.”
Lakeview started off the game in a 2-3 zone, but then switched to man-to-man in the second quarter after Giles hit her outside shots.
“Good players show up and they make you change your game plan,” Haynie said. “After the first quarter, when she was hitting all the shots, we switched up the game plan, which was to just kind of ease into it. They shut that down real quick. We had to get out of that zone and went to man and we played better in man-to-man than I had anticipated.”
As the Bulldogs’ defense keyed in on Giles, it started to open up things up offensively for the other Raiders players.
Four players other than Giles scored in the second half and six different players scored for South Range throughout the game.
Sophomores Devin Sauerwein and Sydney Penick scored five and four points, respectively, while seniors Mallory Vidman and Hannah Heikkinen and sophomore Madison Dado each picked up a bucket as well.
“We got some other players looks tonight,” Fishel said. “We’ve got to clean up our passing a little bit, but the looks were there. We threw the passes, but we didn’t throw great passes. But that’s on me because it’s not something we’ve worked on very much. That’s one of the things we’re discovering that it’s there. If we work on it and do it the right way, we can improve on it and it’ll help expand the variety of our offense.”