Lake Mills is the third-ranked team in the Wissports.net Coaches Poll and the L-Cats got tested on the road by Cambridge before narrowly escaping with their ninth straight win to open the season.
The L-Cats trailed by double digits in the first half and junior point guard Julianna Wagner hit two crucial free throws with 30 seconds left to secure a 67-63 non-conference victory over Cambridge on Thursday.
Wagner’s free throws gave Lake Mills the lead after it trailed by four with under two minutes to play. Sophomore forward McClain Mahone also knocked down a pair of free throws late.
“Defensively we had stretches where we played well, we just weren’t locked in like we needed to be,” Lake Mills girls basketball coach Brandon Siska said. “We had to deal with some adversity, we were losing late and didn’t have the momentum. We found a way to make some plays down the stretch. Thought Cambridge played their tails off tonight.”
Sophomore guard Taylor Roughen and Wagner each scored 16, sophomore center Vivian Guerrero had 15, 10 of which came in the first half, and Mahone added 13 for Lake Mills (9-0).
“We got a few points in transition and hit a few 3s. We had to work for every point,” Siska said. “It wasn’t easy to pack the paint in. With their system, (Cunningham) coaches them well.”
Wagner scored 12 of her 16 points in the second half after adjusting to the type of pressure the Jays were putting on her. The game plan for Cambridge was to deny the junior point guard the ball at all costs once she passed it off to start an offensive possession.
“We had a lot of one-shot possessions. We were getting defensive stops,” said second-year Cambridge coach Kelly Cunningham. Not necessarily steals, but they would take shots that weren’t their best shots and we rebounded to go the other direction. Everyone goes on runs within the game and when their shots weren’t falling we weren’t letting them get another chance.”
Cambridge (1-5) had three in double-figures scoring led by Ashlynn Jarlsberg with 16. Olivia Williams scored 15 and Mayah Holzhueter tallied 12 before fouling out.
“I don’t think many people expected that at all. We played lights out,” Cunningham said. “We continue to play hard, that’s us, but that night in particular, we hit shots. That was an obvious boost for us. They’re a great team and that should send a message that we can be a great team. We’re going to get over the hump if we keep working hard and playing together.”
Lake Mills extended its lead to more then 10 in the second half, but the Blue Jays kept hanging around.
“Cambridge is way better than their record, they shot the lights out of it tonight,” Siska said.
Helping keep Wagner out of sorts was Taylor Stenklyft, who also added nine points. Gracie Korth scored six points and had a team-high seven assists as she helped distribute for the Cambridge offense.
“We had a lot of transition points and scored a lot when we broke their press. We out-scored them in transition,” Cunningham said. “That was fun for us and continued our momentum. They pressured us most of the game, but then switched over to a 2-3 zone extended and we kind of carved them up when they were in that. We were just unselfish and made the right passes.”
Cambridge will continue its season with its home Holiday Classic on Friday, beginning at 9 a.m. against Williams Bay.
LAKE MILLS 67, CAMBRIDGE 63
Lake Mills 34 33 — 67
Cambridge 29 34 — 63
Lake Mills (fg-ft-pts) — Roughen 5-4-16, Wagner 5-5-16, Pitta 2-0-4, Guerrero 6-2-15, Lamke 1-0-3, Mahone 5-2-13. Totals 24 13-20 67.
Cambridge — Jarlsberg 6-2-16, Korth 3-0-6, Holzhueter 6-0-12, Stenklyft 4-0-9, Williams 7-0-15, Bolger 1-0-2, Hommen 1-0-3. Totals 28 2-6 63.
3-point goals — LM (Roughen 2, Wagner, Guerrero, Lamke, Mahone) 6; C (Jarlsberg 2, Stenklyft, Williams, Hommen) 5. Total fouls — LM 12, C 19.