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The Suburbanite
  • Blue Streaks defeat Louisville in sectional final

  •   Riding a suffocating defense and the big-time contributions of their smallest player, the Lake Blue Streaks routed the Louisville Leopards 54-29 in a North Canton Division I sectional tournament final.

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  •   Riding a suffocating defense and the big-time contributions of their smallest player, the Lake Blue Streaks routed the Louisville Leopards 54-29 in a North Canton Division I sectional tournament final.
    “We set the tempo with our defense and our guards were shooting the ball extremely well, along with the post players playing well, so tonight I looked like a good coach,” Lake coach Henry Cobb said with a laugh. “I’m proud of the girls, they really got after it tonight.”
    Leading from start to finish, Lake overcame a sluggish offensive start and relied on a zone defense that harassed the Leopards into 23 turnovers and 24.4 percent shooting (10 of 41).
    Junior guard Baylee Hymes, listed in the program at 5-foot-2, led the way for the Blue Streaks (20-4) with 14 points and helped get her team rolling in a first quarter where both sides looked lost offensively, combining to shoot 5 of 20 from the field and commit 13 turnovers.
    Hymes, shooting 3 of 5 from beyond the arc in the game, capped the first-quarter scoring for Lake with a triple from the left wing, and after an ugly opening eight minutes of basketball, the Blue Streaks led 8-5.
    “She can shoot the ball and she’s a tough girl,” Cobb said.
    Anyone worried about a repeat of last year’s 49-48 loss to Green in which Lake could never shake their lower-seeded opponent needn’t have worried. The second quarter featured the Blue Streaks playing every bit like a 20-win team, holding Louisville to five points while notching 22 of their own to turn a three-point game into a 20-point rout at the half.
    With Lake defenders contesting virtually every shot, the Leopards (16-7) made just two of their 12 attempts in the frame, falling further and further behind as the Blue Streaks pulled away behind a balanced attack fueled by the outside shooting of Hymes and senior guard Miranda Diesz.
    “She played a great half,” Cobb said of his starting shooting guard. “I thought in the first half, Miranda was all over the court.”
    Diesz posted all 11 of her points in the first half and helped shoulder some of the load for leading scorer McKenna Stephens, who showed more energy than she had in Lake’s opening-round victory over New Philadelphia as she continued to recover from a case of strep throat.
    Stephens recorded seven points and four rebounds in 23 minutes and should benefit from the six days off before the Blue Streaks’ district semifinal matchup with Canton McKinley.
    As solid as the first half was, Cobb drew just as many positives from the way his team responded in the second half as they maintained their large lead and never allowed Louisville to make a run. The Lake edge never dipped below 20 after halftime and swelled to as many as 27 (at 45-18) in the third quarter.
    Page 2 of 2 - “There really wasn’t one (a letdown) tonight. We’ll have those, where we play for 16 minutes and then don’t, but tonight the kids played well and we’re moving on. Louisville’s a good basketball team. They’re won 16 games and I thought that we came and played for 32 minutes,” Cobb said.
    Hymes added her third 3-pointer of the night to help revive Lake’s momentum coming out of the locker room and scored the team’s first five points of the period overall.
    Cobb, perhaps sensing his starters could use more playing time after a less-than-stellar opening game in the tournament, kept most of his starting five in until the final minute despite a large lead.
    Hymes (14 points), Diesz (11) and junior Baylen Drylund (11) led Lake in scoring while senior forward Hannah Lemmon topped Louisville with nine.
    As the final buzzer sounded, the veteran coach knew his team had played one of its most complete games of the season and had done so at the best possible time, with a matchup looming against a McKinley team that handed the Blue Streaks two close losses in the regular season.
    “Back in 1986 was the last time Lake won a sectional,” Cobb said. “We played the way Lake is capable of playing and we’re happy to be moving on to the districts.”