By Megan Kelley
Lake Orion High School’s varsity girls basketball team started their season off last week with two non-league games against Lutheran Northwest and Stoney Creek.
On Tuesday the ladies held their first game and home opener against the Lutheran Northwest High School Crusaders.
The Dragons showed their prowess defeating the Crusaders 46-39.
Leading scorers for Lake Orion with 12 points apiece were junior captain Meghan Marshall and freshman Madeleine Ebbert.
Also contributing to the Dragon score was junior Melissa Normand with eight points and senior Erin Humes with seven points.
On defense, Ebbert contributed five steals while Normand and Humes snagged seven and eight rebounds, respectively.
This first game of the season allowed the Dragons to showcase their new all man-to-man defense — a change head coach Bob Brydges is working to implement this season.
“We’re running more. We’re planning man-to-man defense which, last year, we played all-zone (defense) the whole year. We’re definitely much more up tempo, we’re definitely pushing the tempo on other teams,” Brydges said. “The man-to-man defense is a big change from where we’ve been in the past. I talked to all of my coaches and even my kids and I said, ‘when you look around, if you’re going to be an elite program, you need to be able to play elite man-to-man defense.’ That’s really what we’re pushing to get to.”
The drive to build this “elite program” stems from Brydges’ hope to bring more opportunities to his athletes.
“I want my kids to play in a program that they have an opportunity to move on and play in other places,” Brydges said. “So, not just for the benefit of the team, but for the benefit of the individual players themselves. Being able to be put them in those situations will help them go a long way with college recruiting.”
Brydges took over the LOHS girls basketball program last year where the ladies had finished their regular season 8-12 overall and 4-10 in the OAA White.
Although the team is young this year, Brydges believes they have what it takes to be competitive not only in the OAA White but also in their district.
“We’re young but I think we’re better than we were last year,” Brydges said. “The youth is really starting to come in and I’m excited about it…I’m looking forward to a great season with these kids. They all compete and they all work hard.”
The ladies are again in the OAA White league, along with teams such as North Farmington, Avondale, Oxford, Troy, Rochester Adams and Troy Athens. Of these teams, Avondale is expected to give the Dragon’s the biggest run for their money, Brydges said.
“They are the lead dog in our division,” said Brydges. “And then you have a group of four teams that are going to battle it out: us, Oxford, Troy and Rochester Adams. All of those teams are going to be really close. I really think the winner of the White division might come out of it with three or four losses this year. I don’t see anybody going undefeated in the White this year.”
On Friday, the ladies hosted OAA Red contender Stoney Creek at home.
“Tonight (Friday) is our first opportunity to play a team that’s a division above us,” Brydges said before the game. “We’re really challenging ourselves this year. We’re playing four teams that are in divisions that are above us and it’ll give us an opportunity to really gage where our growth has been and how much more we have left to do to get to where we would like to go this year.”
The night ended in a Lake Orion loss 51-43.
Though the Dragon’s were unable to secure a win over the Cougars, it was evident that the Lake Orion players had the ability to compete, regardless of division.
The slow-starting game picked up in the second half.
The Dragons lead the Cougars 15-13 going into the second half but were unable to maintain their momentum, falling behind 30-22 at the end of the third quarter.
In the final minutes of the game the ladies attempted to force turnovers by taking the Cougars to the foul line several times.
The game eventually fell out of reach as Stoney Creek sunk free throw after free throw to secure the win.
Lake Orion athletes Marshall and junior Kendall Robertson both had dominating performances for the Dragons with 14 and 13 points respectively. Also chipping in for Lake Orion was sophomore Kacy Lauer with seven points.
The Dragons take on Clarkston in the Lake Orion Fieldhouse on Thursday at 7 p.m.