they ran into an overwhelming obstacle Saturday in the form of the
South Euclid Regina Royals. As a result, the Firebirds suffered their
first loss of the season, 64-58, at the Classic in the Country in
Berlin. The contest began poorly for the Firebirds and ended the same way.
BERLIN – The Lakota West Firebirds have been nearly invincible all season but they ran into an overwhelming obstacle Saturday in the form of the South Euclid Regina Royals. As a result, the Firebirds suffered their first loss of the season, 64-58, at the Classic in the Country in Berlin.
The contest began poorly for the Firebirds as the quickness and aggressiveness of the Royals seemed to cause the Firebirds some initial problems as the Royals jumped out to an early, 19-12, first quarter lead. In the second quarter, Lakota West began to become more aggressive on the boards and gradually cut into the Regina lead.
Finally, at the 2:03 mark of the second quarter, Lakota’s Quinessa Johnson, converted on a lay-up and the Firebirds were ahead, 27-25.
The final minutes of the second quarter were all Lakota as the Firebirds scored the quarter’s final six points and took a 31-25 lead into halftime.
For most of the second half the Lakota West enjoyed the lead but Regina would not go away. Despite being out-rebounded badly by the taller Firebirds, the Royals kept constant pressure on the Lakota guards and collapsed on the Lakota post players whenever the ball would go inside. The strategy eventually worked as down the stretch the Royals took the lead and, through a combination of good free throw shooting and Lakota turnovers, the Royals took the lead and held it for the victory.
“I think our strategy in the second half worked well,” said Regina coach Pat Diulus. “ We were letting them get too many easy baskets. They (Lakota West) were just too big, both height and their girth so we had to collapse on them to cut down on the easy baskets. As the second half progressed, they began to wear down and my girls stepped up.”
The match-up between Regina and Lakota West featured two players bound for Division I programs next year, Lakota’s Amber Gray and Regina’s Shay Selby. Gray, headed for Tennessee, came out on top statistically with 17 points and 13 rebounds but it was not enough.
“It just teaches us that you can't walk around like (you're) super almighty, said Gray.” You have a huge target on your back. Even with this loss, there's still going to be a huge target on our back. Everybody wants to come after us and beat us. It's not going to set us back. It's going to push us forward.”
For the Firebirds, Alexis Rogers also had a big night by scoring 16 and pulling down 11 boards but no other Firebirds were in double figures.
Regina’s top scorers were Shay Selby and Mercedes Mitchell with 14 and Brittany Reed and Emily Hoscilowicz with 13.
With their win the Royals record improves to 12-2 while Lakota West falls to 14-1.