Medical Lake’s playing one of their strongest and best games of the season early last week didn’t translate to the end of the week.
After scoring a 49-41 Northeast A League win at home last Tuesday over Newport (6-5 NEA, 11-8 overall) the Cardinals (3-8, 7-12) fell 54-35 to Lakeside (8-2, 14-4) and then 52-24 to Cheney last Saturday in the annual Spirit Game.
The split in league play leaves Medical Lake in postseason limbo as they prepared for their final league game, played this past Tuesday at Chewelah (2-8, 6-12) head coach Carey Schwarzer said.
“It’s kind of a must-win for us tomorrow (Tuesday) in Chewelah,” Schwarzer said. Medical Lake fell 33-30 at home earlier to the Cougars.
The playoffs begin Tuesday, Feb. 5 with the top two seeds earning first-round byes and then the third place team facing No. 6 and No. 4 hosting No. 5.
In knocking off Newport, a team they could face in the NEA playoffs, “We just played a great team game,” Schwarzer said. “Every time Newport started to make a little run we came together and put a stop to it.”
Behind the 19 points from Kelby Wegner and 13 more from fellow senior Sabrina Earle, the Cardinals had a 24-19 halftime lead and were up 36-24 through three quarters. “It was one of the first times we’ve put four strong quarters together.” The Grizzlies’ Holly Malsbury led all scorers with 21.
Faced with a different defensive scheme – Lakeside plays primarily a man versus a zone –Schwarzer said her team did not handle the pressure well. “We gave up a lot of easy points, and we didn’t finish off our shots.”
Lakeside had a 27-14 edge in rebounding, 14 of those on the offensive end. The Cardinals were outscored 17-4 in the first quarter. The Eagles just boxed out well and didn’t give up many points in the paint.
Ashley Cook-Cox with 13 points and Jenna Widman’s 12 “Just hurt us in the paint,” Schwarzer said. Becky Troutt scored nine to lead the Cardinals.
Things started out much better Saturday in the festive atmosphere of the Golden Feather Spirit Game versus West Plains’ rival Cheney.
After trailing just 11-9 after the first quarter, Cheney stormed ahead for good with a 19-5 edge in the second to lead 30-14 at the break.
“We just went cold shooting in the second quarter,” Schwarzer said. “We were 0 for 8 for two pointers and 1 for 7 for 3-pointers.” By making even half of the layups, she said, it’s an entirely different game.
Schwarzer had high praise for Cheney’s defense and offense. “The Cheney girls do an excellent job of anticipating passes,” she said. “They jumped in the passing lanes for steals and (Chae) Brown did a great job of creating offense for herself and her teammates.”
Brown lead all scorers with 16 points, followed by Coreen Labish’s 12. Twenty-two Cardinal turnovers led to a number of Lady Hawks’ points. Trout’s eight and Wegner’s seven points were tops for Medical Lake. Labish, a sophomore, also put the defensive clamps on Medical Lake senior Sabrina Earle, holding he scoreless.
Paul Delaney can be reached at email@example.com.