MIDDLETOWN – Four seasons, four DIAA playoff appearances.
With Thursday night’s season-ending 58-42 victory over St. Georges, Lake Forest girls’ basketball captured its 14th win of the season and pretty much wrapped up a decent seed in the DIAA state tournament.
“I just want to get a good seed and give the girls a fighting chance at competing,” head coach Trenita Shields said of her team’s 14-6 regular season.
In her four seasons at the helm in Lake Forest, Shields has now led the Lady Spartans to four double-digit win seasons.
As they have many times this season, the Spartans got off to a rough start to the road game against the Hawks.
St. Georges ended the first quarter with a 9-7 lead, and held a one-point lead with 2:23 to play in the second quarter.
Coming out of a timeout, senior Arika Burrell drained a three-point shot at the 2:04 mark to put the Spartans ahead 16-14. It was all the confidence Lake Forest needed.
A 14-0 run in the final 2:04 of the first half allowed the Spartans to go into the break with a 27-14 lead and enough confidence to coast to a 16-point victory.
“We started the game off today a little slow. I had to throw some challenges out there to get them going, but they rose to the challenge,” Shields said. “I told them they don’t have time to wait to make something happen, they have to go out there and create it.”
Senior Mya Maddox led the way in scoring, putting up 21 points, including three 3-pointers. Fellow senior Arika Burrell added another 16 points and three 3-pointers of her own.
With four consecutive victories to finish the regular season, Lake Forest feels confident heading into the DIAA tournament later this month.
“I’m pretty confident,” Maddox said of her team. “We work hard in practice, take in everything coach Shields says. So if we keep on doing that then we should be good, but if we run away from her like we tend to do then I don’t know. But I’m confident in this team.”
Maddox and Burrell have been playing alongside each other at Lake for the past three years, with Mya transferring from Woodbridge following her freshman year. The chemistry the two teammates have while they are both on the court has proven to be a bonus.
“I don’t think I would want to do this with anyone else,” Mya said of the senior class. “We’ve had our ups and downs, arguments, all the girls go through that, but playing with Arika and these girls the last three years the chemistry is tighter than I’ve ever seen a senior class go through.”
With the leadership from the group of five seniors – Maddox, Burrell, Yasmine Rowley, Alexia Cornish and Nicole Scott – the Lady Spartans have seen a lot of improvement throughout the season.
“We’ve improved a lot,” Arika said. “We’ve had some good games and we’ve had some terrible games, but we’ve been learning and taking more in at practice. Everybody’s been getting better.”
For coach Shields, this senior class is a special one for her.
“I’m going to miss them,” she said. “This is my first full class of graduates, so it’s hard for me. But the future is bright for Lake Forest.”
With the tournament not officially tipping off until Feb. 28, the team will have a long break between competition. Coach Shields hopes the time will allow her team to recuperate and be fully prepared for the tournament.
Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at email@example.com.