You could say Lakota West High School’s game plan worked pretty well Sunday night.
Host West brought waves of pressure that Fairmont handled poorly in the Journey to the Tourney girls basketball showcase event, leading to a 56-35 victory for LWHS in the Battle of the Firebirds.
“We were told to keep up our defensive intensity all the way through the game. Don’t let up no matter what,” said West junior guard Madisyn Oxley, who led the winners with 12 points, four rebounds and four steals. “That’s what we did, and the results happened.”
Abby Prohaska had 10 points and five boards and Jasmine Ballew, a transfer from Princeton, collected eight points and four rebounds in her LWHS debut.
Frazzled Fairmont (1-1) committed 32 turnovers, 2o more than West.
“Our pressure kept them from taking advantage of the height situation they had,” said Matt Lykins, who’s directing LWHS while head coach Andy Fishman deals with a health issue. “We rotated really well defensively.
“The thought process was that we need to keep going out there and working on things that we need to get better at. We did a really good job to hold them to 35 points. We’re in November, but we know that this is a journey, and we’re playing for March right now.”
West improved to 2-0 without Fishman at the helm. He also missed Saturday’s 58-43 win over Columbus (Ind.) North because of a detached retina.
Fishman is scheduled to undergo eye surgery Monday morning. His coaching status will be determined after that.
“The kids are fine,” Lykins said. “Andy has assured them that he is fine and that he’s going to recover. His health is the priority.
“As we stand right now, we’re preparing to keep moving forward with the staff we have in place. The kids are hearing the same verbiage, they know what the routine is, whether it comes from Andy or from myself or any of the other assistants.”
Oxley said the best thing West can do right now is to keep winning for its coach.
“I’m sure Coach Fishman is proud tonight,” she said. “We can’t wait until he gets back.”
LWHS racked up 19 steals against Fairmont, with Juliauna Howard and Sarah Jones contributing four apiece.
West never trailed and tallied the last eight points of the first half to take a 29-15 advantage into the break, then opened the third period with a 14-1 burst.
“I thought we came out with a lot of energy in the third quarter and kept our foot on the gas pedal,” Lykins said. “We had a lot of kids that logged minutes and contributed.”
On the down side … LWHS was 12 of 22 at the foul line. Fairmont was only 7 of 16.
“I heard someone earlier say, ‘Well, you guys have reloaded,’ ” Lykins said. “We have five kids on our roster that were part of the state championship team two years ago, but we also have kids who have been in our program working hard and waiting for their opportunity. We’ve got great leadership and a good mix of kids.”
“We’re really excited for the rest of the season,” Oxley said. “The roles for every player are completely different this year. Last year we had three seniors that kind of ran the team. We need new leadership this year. We have people that need to make plays, and we’re forming really well.”
A pair of 6-foot-2 freshmen, Madeline Westbeld (eight points, six rebounds, two blocks) and Madison Bartley (11 points, seven boards), led Fairmont.
West will begin Greater Miami Conference play at Oak Hills on Wednesday, then host Mason on Saturday afternoon. Fairmont will visit Lakota East on Tuesday.
Lakota West 17-12-21-6—56
FAIRMONT (1-1): Mariah Roe 1 0 3, Kierra Thornton 1 1 3, Jamie Pacenta 1 0 2, Madeline Westbeld 2 3 8, Madison Bartley 4 3 11, Makira Webster 2 0 6, Emma Martcheva 1 0 2. Totals: 12-7-35
LAKOTA WEST (2-0): Jaydis Gale 1 0 2, Bryana Henderson 1 2 4, Madisyn Oxley 3 4 12, Sarah Jones 2 0 4, Alexandra Haar 0 1 1, Angelia Jackson 2 1 7, Christine Laritz 1 0 2, Jasmine Ballew 3 2 8, Nevaeh Dean 2 2 6, Abby Prohaska 5 0 10. Totals: 20-12-56
3-pointers: F 4 (Webster 2, Westbeld, Roe), L 4 (Oxley 2, Jackson 2)