Story by Jim Horvath
Photos and video by Larry Bennet
For the better part of three quarters, Lakewood and Magnificat went at each other with tournament-like intensity. Both teams found points hard to come by, with both teams looking for a spark that would make a difference.
The Rangers never found that spark. For the Blue Streaks, out of nowhere came Elise Keshock.
Keshock, Magnificat's 5-9 sophomore, had scored a mere four points in the the first three quarters of the game. But in the fourth quarter, she exploded for 16 points as the Blue Streaks ran away with a 62-33 win Saturday afternoon in front of a large crowd at Lakewood High School.
Magnificat, the No. 4 seed in the upcoming Division I sectional/district tournament, held a 32-24 halftime lead against Lakewood, the No. 6 seed. Neither team could find any offensive rhythm in the third quarter, with the Rangers managing just three points.
The Blue Streaks, who had been held scoreless for nearly five minutes in the second quarter and a four-minute stretch in the third, made a move late in the frame. Guard Lissy Roggenburk scored inside, then fellow sophomore Phoebe Sterba nailed a 3-pointer to close out the third and give Magnificat a little breathing room at 41-27.
That's when Keshock took over.
She started the fourth quarter with a mid-range jumper, then followed up another off an inbounds play. She poured in two more buckets, giving the visitors a 49-27 advantage as Lakewood head coach Mike Harper called for a timeout.
When play resumed, Roggenburk scored to make it 51-27. Keshock came back with two more scores, then a fast-break hoop by Sterba made it 57-27, the Blue Streaks' largest lead of the game.
After Harper's second timeout of the quarter, Keshock scored again to make it a 23-0 run for the Blue Streaks. Sophomore Mallory Sahw scored on a drive in the lane for the Rangers to stop the run, but another Keshock bucket and a pair of Kathleen Mikkelsen free throws made it 62-29 with 1:29 left in the game.
"I thought we had to work pretty hard in the first half for any points we were getting," said Magnificat head coach Meghann Hubach.
"So at halftime, we talked about how we needed to work to maintain and build our lead. In order to do that, we needed to get defensive stops. That helps to generate some offense. It's a lot easier to score in transition, or after you've stopped them from getting a bucket rather than feel like you have to grind away to get something.
"In doing so, we threw out our 1-3-1 and pressed a little bit with our man-to-man pressure in the half court. We got some stops, and I thought we rebounded the ball well. And in the second half, we moved the ball well and played well as a team. We made that extra pass and got some easy shots," she added.
There were no easy shots for the Rangers, who scored just 11 baskets in the game and shot an ice-cold 22 percent from the floor. In the second half, the home team shot four of 25 for a frigid 16 percent.
"You have offensive days like that, and you're not going to win many games that way," Harper said.
"You can't come out and score three points in a quarter and expect to be in a game, especially against a team that good. Magnificat can score, and they can score in a lot of different ways. You try to play defense well enough to try to contain it somewhat, but you know that you're going to have to score some points.
"Our offense has been called high-octane, and we've been doing some pretty good things over the last two years. But lately, I've seen some things from us offensively that I don't understand," he added.
Junior post player Madison Clause led the Rangers with 12 points while pulling down seven rebounds before leaving the game at the end of the third quarter with an injury. No other Ranger hit double digits, with senior Erin Hoffert coming in second for the team in scoring with five points.
"It's a collective mentality," Harper said. "I think once one or two of our girls start missing shots, it's like a disease. It's contagious. The other night against Vermilion, we put 70 points up on the board. Once a couple of our players started hitting, everybody started hitting and everybody felt good.
"I don't know. I don't know where that heart and soul is that says I've got to step up and hit some shots. We can't have our leading scorers coming away with two, three or zero points," he said.
"But our kids never quit and they played with intensity. I thought we brought energy and did great with that.," he added.
Magnificat, on the other hand, shot 13 of 25 for 52 percent in the second half. Roggenburk added nine points off the bench, while senior Bridget Pryatel chipped in with six. Sophomore Lily Schwind had seven rebounds off the bench as the Blue Streaks had a 32-26 edge under the boards in a what was, for the most part, a physical contest.
"Our spirits were good at halftime, and it's always good to go into the locker room with a lead," Hubach said. "It was a physical game, but we've been in physical games before.
"We just try to toughen up and play through it. We've had a rough stretch of games lately. We've been in a lot of tough games which we've been able to pull out and win, so I think that's helped us. It's given us a little bit of confidence.
"Coming into this game, this was a statement game for Lakewood. They're playing confidently, they've done really well in their conference and they've had a great season. To beat Magnificat would make their season, and I think our kids knew that. They came out prepared and ready to play today," she added.
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