WINONA LAKE – Schools love to ride the wave of momentum from one season to another. In the case of Lakeland Christian Academy’s girls basketball team, they hope to surf onto bigger waves.
The LCA girls soccer team was able to do what no other LCA girls sport has done, winning a sectional title in October in just the team’s second year of existence. It was more significant being the first title any LCA sport has won since joining the IHSAA. The girls basketball team nearly pulled that feat off last year, going to the sectional championship game before Lakewood Park held off the Cougars for the title.
With most of this year’s basketball team made up of soccer players, they know what it’s like to win and what it will take.
Last season was a historical one for the program, posting a record 16 wins as well as winning two sectional games against Bethany Christian and Hamilton to reach its first-ever sectional final against LPC. The appearance was the first title shot in LCAs six years as an IHSAA school up to that point.
LCA will deal with replacing possibly the finest player the program has seen in the IHSAA era in Hope Fancil, who did a little of everything for the team. If high school basketball had a fantasy league, Fancil would be a high draft pick after averaging 15.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 2.2 blocks and 2.0 assists in 25 games. Also graduating from the program were Jess Slone and Brady Gross, taking another 11 ppg, 14 rpg and two steals a night from the production.
“It is always hard to say good-bye to a class of seniors,” said LCA head coach Allison Kauffman. “Last year, they all brought a lot to our team; however, we have a lot of talent coming up that we are excited about. Every year, we look to adjusting our offenses and defenses based on personnel, and we are excited about the changes we are making to fit the strengths of our team this year.”
As the soccer team saw, these girls can still play, and there is plenty left for the 2018-19 season.
Senior Anna Reimink and junior Tori Calizo bring back a bulk of the basketball experience, and not so surprisingly, were lynchpins for the soccer run. Reimink greatly improved as a point guard her junior season, leading the team with 3.5 assists a game to go with 5.8 ppg. But Reimink was also asked to match up with the opponent’s top ball handler, and put in some serious work. Averaging 4.4 steals and 4.8 rebounds a night, Reimink did the dirty work as well, morphing into a force on both ends of the court. Calizo was a big shooter for the Cougars, becoming the second option behind Fancil and hit a team-high 23 three-pointers and was second on the team at 9.3 ppg.
“Tori and Anna are coming off of a very successful soccer season,” Kauffman said. “They are both talented athletes that work extremely hard. Both of them are going to be major contributors to our team both offensively and defensively this year. We are looking to both of them to confidently take their shots on the offensive end. Anna is our floor captain and defensively will continue to shut players down.”
Kauffman points out the additions of Maddie Paris, Abigail FIshel and Lauren Starrett into the regular rotation, as well as potential upped minutes for the likes of Avery Hobbs, Jordan Gross and new additions Carly O’Hara and Jessi Calizo will only help. Again, Paris, Starrett, Hobbs, O’Hara and Jessi Calizo all enter from the soccer run.
Being able to get to the ball on the defensive end will be key.
“We don’t have as much size this year, so we are emphasizing that all 5 players need to pursue the defensive rebounds,” Kauffman said. “Those are the little things that can make a big difference in the stretch of a basketball game.”
LCA begins its season at home Tuesday against Cornerstone.