The Lady Lancers hoopsters are having one heck of a season, posting a 10-3 record going into the DODDS European championship tournament next week.
Although the Lakenheath High School girls basketball team typically plays lower division teams in the United Kingdom and international schools, the girls have taken on and beaten what will likely be some of their toughest competition — Ramstein and Kaiserslautern — at the Division I European championship tournament later this month.
In January, the Lancers beat Ramstein in a nail-biter, 47-46, as junior guard Erica Turner sank the winning free throw with six seconds to go in regulation. They beat K-Town on the same trip to Germany 46-40 in overtime, after Jessica Serd, a senior forward, stole an inbound pass with four seconds to go in the game and hit a layup that sent it into overtime.
"We never give up," Serd said. "The team’s strength is defense."
Serd said her strengths in rebounding and post defense mirror what the team does well, and that the team is not becoming overconfident by winning two tough road games. Those Ws just make the team more determined to play well and work hard, she said.
Lancer Coach Matthew Martinez said the Germany trip boosted his team’s mental toughness, which should no doubt help come tourney time. He called those narrow margins of victory in Germany indicative of the team’s season with most of their games being close ones.
"I think the girls are a lot more confident, but they aren’t big-headed … you can’t expect that you are going to beat them again," Martinez said. "We will not see Vilseck, Patch and Heidelberg. They are all very solid … they are going to be good. The Division I tournament is pretty wide open."
But Martinez concedes that after last weekend’s split with the International School of Brussels, he thinks the girls need to get better.
"We didn’t play as well as we should have as a team," Martinez said. "I think our girls realize we can’t just go out and expect to win every game. We need to learn how to travel better."
Martinez said the girls started picking up their game in Saturday’s 42-35 loss in the last four minutes by taking better shots and stepping up their defense.
He said that besides Serd, other standout players include the co-captains: junior guard Tekeia Wallace, who has become the team leader, and senior center Lisa McBride.
The team thought it would be good going into the season, Wallace said. She credited the coaches’ intense conditioning program for helping the team play at such a high level.
Serd called Wallace "a major force" who helps motivate the team with her hard-work ethic. And Martinez praised McBride for her ability to recognize defenses, her court awareness and ability to break down plays.
The coaches and players agree that beating Ramstein and K-Town is an advantage come tournament time, but those schools are well-coached and are teams to look out for.
Wallace praised Kaiserslautern and Ramstein for their shooting skills and ability to run the fast break.
"The advantage for us in seeing them is we know what we need to work on," Wallace said.