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The Suburbanite
  • Tigers fall to Waterloo as multiple injuries sideline players

  • A banged-up Lake Center Christian basketball team played its final game before Christmas against a veteran Waterloo team that started five seniors and took advantage (48-30) of a young squad beset by injuries.

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  • A banged-up Lake Center Christian basketball team played its final game before Christmas against a veteran Waterloo team that started five seniors and took advantage (48-30) of a young squad beset by injuries.
    A road contest against a team with a double-digit win over the same Rootstown squad that defeated LCCS by 46 in the Tigers’ season opener may not have been what the doctor ordered. Starting point guard Kelsey Raymondi is still out with a knee injury and three other key players have yet to set foot on the court this season because of injuries. But first-year head coach Paul Zacour knows the lumps his team is taking now can be beneficial in the long run if the Tigers (0-7) remain strong mentally.
    “I think if the girls continue to stay positive, in the long run, these struggles will be beneficial because it’s getting girls experience, and you can’t replace in-game experience,” Zacour said. "You can't replace it with practice or anything, and it’s getting them experience they never would have had otherwise.”
    Turnovers were again a problem for the Tigers with 25 miscues in the game. Ball handling became even more of an issue when freshman guard Brianna Miller, taking over as the primary ball handler with Raymondi out, was assessed her third foul in the second quarter, leaving the Tigers without anyone on the court who was experienced in bringing the ball up the floor.
    Freshman Gianna Skeriotis also moved into the starting lineup, giving LCCS three freshmen in the starting five against a team that has become a perennial contender in the Portage Trail Conference County Division.
    The Vikings (5-2) sprinted to an early 12-3 lead after one quarter and built on that margin in the second quarter, extending the edge to 30-8 at the half. The Tigers struggled to find a consistent rhythm on offense with Miller on the bench in foul trouble. With their ability to force turnovers and convert them into layups, the Vikings scored all but one of their baskets from two-point range.
    The hosts also had a slight edge at the free-throw line, converting 13 of 17 chances while LCCS struggled at 10-of-18 from the charity stripe (55.6 percent).
    In addition to a reshuffled and inexperienced lineup, LCCS is facing issues with depth and wearing down late in games against teams that can play eight or nine players and keep starters from wearing down.
    “There is definitely some fatigue, I think. The holiday season couldn’t come at a better time to give us a few days off and get our legs back under us,” Zacour said. “When you’re only playing six girls, with how hard we want to defend, I don’t care what kind of shape you’re in, you’re going to be tired.”
    Page 2 of 2 - With a full week off before their next game, the Tigers could not be getting down time at a more opportune point. While there is no fixed time frame for when any of their injured players will be back in action, having a few days off from school and the grind of games should aid in getting healthier while also providing additional time for the underclassmen being pressed into action to get looks in practice and adjust to their new roles.
    Senior guard Olivia Myers led the way for LCCS with 18 points and was one of only three Tigers to score on the night. Miller added seven points despite her reduced minutes and freshman guard Kaylee Serdinak had five.
    Jamie Willis led Waterloo with 17 points and was the only player in double figures for the Vikings.
    Waterloo held a slim 35-33 rebounding edge and outshot the Tigers narrowly, 26 percent to LCCS’ 23 percent.
    Being competitive against the Vikings also offered encouragement because it was only 25 days prior that the Tigers opened their season a few miles north on route 44 in Rootstown and absorbed a 85-39 loss to the Rovers, who were routed by Waterloo in an early season matchup.
    “I told the girls it’s evident the improvement we’ve made from Game 1,” Zacour said.
    Progress, at this point, is all Zacour and his staff can ask for from a growing team facing so many injuries and challenges.