BY BRIAN BASSETT
MIDDLE POINT - The Linolnview Lady Lancer basketball team has done a good job all season of following a loss with a win, and not letting one loss turn into multiples.That continued Thursday at Lincolnview High School, when theh Lady Lancers (14-5, 5-2) bounced back from a loss to Delphos St. John's on Tuesday with a 61-57 Northwest Conference win over Ada (11-8, 5-2).
"After all the adversity that we've gone through as a team in the last week, it was great to see (the girls) come back and play as well as they did tonight," explained Linclnview coach Dan Williamson."Everything we didn't do Tuesday we did tonight. We made a ton of free throws and finished layups, so it was good to see (the girls) bounce back."
Lincolnview held a 49-33 lead with less than six minutes left to play in the game, but the Lady Bulldogs wouldn't go away without a fight. Ada scored 10 straight points spurred by a pair of baskets by sophomore forward Tori Wyss.
The Lady Bulldogs put the press on Lincolnview during the run, but the Lady Lancers regained their composure, held onto the ball and knocked down most of their free throws to hold onto the narrow win.
"We handled their pressure pretty well for the most part. When you have (sphomore guard) Hannah (McCleery), who is a point guard basically, and obvioulsy (senior guard) Katie (Dye), that's tough to guard defensively. We did a nice job of handling the pressure and knocking down free throws when we had to," Williamson said.
The Lady Lancers shot 23-of-32 from the charity stripe, including 14-of-19 down the stretch. Lincolnview also took better care of the ball, turning it over only 11 times to Ada's 20.
"They've got a nice group of seniors who know how to play basketball. They play hard," described Ada coach Neal Dumbaugh.
Ada senior guard Taylor Willeke led all scorers with 23 points, including 15 in the fourth quarter. Wyss added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
"Wilke and Wyss came to play on both ends of the floor," added Dumbaugh.
Lincolnview countered with the one-two punch of Katie Dye and senior post Kaitlyn Brant. Dye had 21 points and Brant added 19.
The key for Lincolnview was keeping Brant out of foul trouble. When she recorded her third foul in the opening seconds of the third quarter, things didn't look good, but Brant didn't get her fourth until the fourth quarter.
"That was huge. When she's not in the game we're a completely different team. We struggle to rebound and offensively things tend to bog down a little bit. She's extremely important to be on the floor for us," Williamson said.
Kati Dye is also important to keep on the floor for the Lady Lancers. "She's playing really well right now," Williamson explained of the senior guard. "That's what we need from our seniors. It's that time of year, where we want to start playing well for the tournament. (The seniors) are playing as well as they have all year. That's what we've got to have."
Lincolnview jumped out to an 11-6 lead to open the game, with four first-quarter points from McCleery. By halftime, the Lady Lancer lead had grown to seven, 28-21.
Lincolnview extended its lead to 10 after three quarters, as Ada hit only two field goals in the third. Willeke scored eight of the 10 Lady Bulldog points in the frame, and six of those came via free throw.
Willeke and Wyss combined for 24 points in the final frame, to Lincolnview's team total of 20. Unfortunately for Ada it was too-little, too-late as Lincolnview held on.
Each team made 18 field goals, but the Lady Lancers made theirs in only 38 shots (47 percent) to Ada's 50 (36 percent).
Williamson was happy to see how well his team played down the final stretch of the season, especially with starting senior guard Kaylee Thatcher out of the lineup due to a suspension.
"We want to have as much confidence as we can heading into tournament. Whether we win by twenty or one, I don't care, just as long as we play well. And I thought, for the most part, we played well.
"Ada's a very good team. They only had one conference loss coming in. Our goal is to win out and get second place in the conference. That's what we're playing for right now," he said.