The Lakeside Lancers (24-7) rebounded from a disappointing 24-point loss to Santa Barbara in the CIF Finals by outrunning the Hoover Patriots (20-11) from Fresno, 68-46, in the first round of the CIF State Regional playoffs. It was a historical night for both teams who have never had a team advance this far. “This is my seventeenth year at Hoover,” said coach Dara Johnson, “My mother went to this school and I did as well, this is the first team to make it to State playoffs since the school opened in 1963. It’s a special accomplishment for this team and especially our seven seniors.” Hoover travelled four-and-half hours for the game.
“I think the girls learned something from Saturday’s loss and they’re more relaxed and confident at home,” said Lakeside coach Anthony Williams, “We can’t get that game back, but we can get the opportunity to move forward . . . towards a state championship. We got a couple of days practice, we’re rejuvenated and ready to prove we’re not the team that played on Saturday.”
It was not a pretty win as both teams were aggressive defensively and pushing the tempo offensively, creating a high-paced turnover-filled game. Hoover had 26 first-half turnovers; Lakeside had 21 in the game. “We tried to up the tempo and get off to a fast start,” said Williams, “We tried to do too much and overpassed.” Despite the turnovers, Lakeside jumped out to a 21-11 lead after the first quarter. Guard Maia Crawly hit on three of her first four shots and Marissa Williams dropped in two from beyond the arc.
Lakeside continued the onslaught with an 18-9 second quarter with five players scoring. Lakeside’s transition game kept the pressure on. “They would try to fast break every time they got the ball,” said Hoover’s star forward Michelle Brown, “Their shots were falling and our weren’t.” Freshman Emma Merriweather’s 6’3″ presence in the paint made a difference shutting down Brown and Hoover’s inside game. She had eight of her team’s 13 blocks.
“We wanted to pack it in and shut down their inside game,” said coach Williams, “They run their offense through their bigs . . . not let their main player hurt us today.” Brown ended the night with fifteen points to lead Hoover.
Lakeside led 53-29 at the end of three periods; Tavian Lasley’s and Kianna William’s three’s widened the scoring gap.
It was a very balanced team effort on both ends of the floor. Crawley and Kianna Williams each contributed 12 points. Crawley also had seven assists and three steals. Williams controlled the game tempo and tallied four rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks. Lasley had three rebounds, seven assists and seven points. Merriweather had 11 points, four rebounds to go with her eight blocks. Marissa Williams had ten points. Victoria Sosa, who is only 5’7″, added nine more rebounds for a five-game playoff total of 45. She also had a steal and eight points.
The Lady Lancers host #10-seed South Pasadena Tigers (21-6, 9-1). The Tigers advanced with a 74-69 win over Sierra Charter School from Tollhouse, the school’s first Regional State playoff win. The Tigers earned their first Rio Honda League championship since 1999, led by the shooting of guards Lexie Scholz and Elise Takahama and the inside game of Sophia Hathaway. Game time is 6 pm Saturday at Lakeside.