By MIKE SHAFFER
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Rebuilding is tough. Rebuilding from a team that won just one game last year and graduated five seniors doesn’t seem fair. Though, that’s the task at hand for Lakeside girls basketball coach Dave Malone, whose Dragons fell to the Chardon Hilltoppers 63-22 on Wednesday night at Lakeside Gymnasium.
“Those five seniors played the majority of the time last year,” Malone said. “We’ve got girls coming in now with zero playing time and trying to compete, that’s tough”
Chardon (4-0, 2-0 PAC) wasn’t offering any sympathy. At the opening tip-off, the Hilltoppers used intense defensive pressure to create turnovers that led to points in transition. Chardon scored the first 28 points of the game before Lakeside got on the board. Leading the way for Hilltoppers was Kahrin Spear. The point guard scored eight of her game-high 21 points in the first period.
She also finished the game with 5 steals and was part of a defensive unit that put tremendous pressure on the ball, forcing 16 Lakeside turnovers during the first quarter.
“Kahrin’s our floor general,” Chardon coach Dave Munson said. “She’s an outstanding player, she can handle the ball, she can shoot it, she plays great defense and I thought she played really well tonight.”
The defensive intensity displayed in the first eight minutes set the tone for the night.
“We wanted to come out strong, when we step up the intensity that’s when we are at our best,” Spear said. “If our defensive intensity is high it will translate to our offense and will lead to the rest of the game being upbeat. Once we start turning the other team over you can see the life being sucked out of them, and that’s what we want, we want them to feel like they are just being drained of their energy because of our pressure.”
Malone agreed with what the opposition had to say.
“We began to get on our heels,” Malone said. “You can’t play this game on your heels. We need to do a better job of passing. We had a lot of turnovers.”
Chardon’s second leading scorer was Rachel Tusick who finished with 14 points.
“She’s gotten better both games for us,” Munson said. “What’s really exciting is that both of them (Spear and Tusick) are both just sophomores.”
A bright spot for Lakeside (0-4, 0-1 PAC) was Shelby Smith. Smith, a senior post player led the Dragons with 15 points. She also had 15 rebounds and blocked three shots.
“Shelby played phenomenal,” Malone said. “Her leadership is really stepping up.”
“She’s an outstanding player,” Munson said about the Lakeside senior. “She moves her body well, she rebounds the ball, she has a nice touch around the basket. She’s going to be a force in the league this year, there is no doubt about that.”
Shaffer is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.