2017-02-23 / Sports

Lady Lakers lock up Northwest title

LaCross, Glen Lake girls push conference win streak to 31 games
By Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff


GLEN LAKE players celebrate with coach Jason Bradford in the Frankfort locker room on Tuesday following a 54-38 win over the Lady Panthers. The Lady Lakers captured the outright Northwest Conference championship with the victory. GLEN LAKE players celebrate with coach Jason Bradford in the Frankfort locker room on Tuesday following a 54-38 win over the Lady Panthers. The Lady Lakers captured the outright Northwest Conference championship with the victory. Jennifer LaCross embodied the “defense wins championships” adage on Tuesday — at least in the eyes of Glen Lake coach Jason Bradford.

“Defensively, she was all over the place,” Bradford said.

LaCross wasn’t bad on offense, either. The junior guard filled the stat sheet with 18 points, 13 rebounds, four assists and four steals as the Lady Lakers captured a second consecutive Northwest Conference title with a 54-38 win at Frankfort — their 31st straight win over a league opponent.

Bradford said the championship and conference win streak are a testament to his team’s offseason dedication.

“We talked about all the work they did all summer long and how this is when it needs to pay off,” he said. “This just shows how hard they work.”

Glen Lake (16-3, 15-0 Northwest) certainly had to work to keep its streak alive against the Lady Panthers, who led 18-16 at halftime.

Bradford said Savannah Peplinski sparked the second-half turnaround with three quick steals and three quick buckets in a span of 30 seconds, forcing a Frankfort timeout.

“That got things going,” he said.

It was all downhill from there as Glen Lake outscored Frankfort 26-8 in the third quarter.

Kelly Bunek finished with 12 points and seven rebounds in the win while Peplinski pitched in with 10 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Bradford said LaCross did a nice job containing Cecelia Schmitt, limiting the Frankfort standout to 20 points without committing a foul.

“She’s a strong player, but we had to work on shutting all of them down,” LaCross said.

The road victory was Glen Lake’s third since last Thursday — and it wasn’t the most challenging.

The Lady Lakers escaped Benzie Central with a 59-57 overtime win last Thursday before notching a 65-40 win at Onekama on Monday.

Glen Lake was tasked with overcoming a seven-point deficit in the final two minutes of regulation at Benzie but found ways to create turnovers, score quickly and force overtime.

“We realized we were playing for the championship — it wasn’t just another game,” LaCross said. “We wanted to play for our seniors.”

Bunek, a senior, led offensively with 17 points. Allie Bonzelet added 15 points and eight rebounds while LaCross contributed with 10 points.

Benzie had two wide-open 3-pointers with time-winding down in the fourth quarter, Bradford said, but both missed the mark.

“The ball was rolling our way,” he said.

No fourth-quarter comeback was needed on Monday, however, as a big second-half from Bunek propelled Glen Lake to a lopsided win.

Bunek scored a season-high 19 points; LaCross and Peplinski poured in 12 points apiece. LaCross also corralled 10 rebounds while Bonzelet made life difficult on Onekama ball handlers, finishing with six steals.

“We’re talking about defense,” LaCross said when asked how the team is preparing for districts. “We’re always talking about defense.”

The Lady Lakers will look for more of the same tonight as they close out the regular season against visiting Mesick. From there, the team will take on Grand Traverse Academy in the first round of districts on Monday at 6 p.m.

A Glen Lake win would set up a rematch of last year’s district final at No. 2 Traverse City St. Francis on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

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