Lakeland Christian Hopes Tournament Run Can Lead To Experience

January 30, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.

By Connor McCann

The Lakeland Christian girls basketball team has had its fair share of ups and downs this season, which is customary for a squad that features a plethora of underclassmen getting major varsity minutes for the first time. After a regular season in which the Lady Cougars managed a 9-14 record, head coach Craig Calizo is intrigued on how the team will fare in IHSAA 1A Sectional 53 at Northfield, and perhaps most importantly, how his players will grow from the experience.
“The experience of playing in big games is very important to a player’s development. To hear the crowd and play in that atmosphere is exciting. To be able to absorb the atmosphere and still be able to perform at a high level is the goal.” Calizo said. “To be able to have clarity in times of intense competition translates into many situations, even outside the game of basketball. This experience is invaluable.”
Lakeland Christian will need to win two games to advance out of their four-team tournament and into the regional round, with the first test taking place on Friday night in the first game against Southern Wells (6-15) before host school Northfield (10-13) takes on Southwood (7-14) in the second semifinal contest. The winners will meet on Saturday.
Despite his team going 0-3 against the sectional field, the closest game being a 15-point loss to Northfield, Calizo is confident that his team can string together some wins if they are playing at a high level.
“If we play to our potential, I believe we can have some success. We began the season as a very inexperienced team but as the season has gone on, we have seen some growth,” Calizo said. If we can play with confidence and execute, I like our chances.”
Leading the way for the Lady Cougars will be junior Katie Reimink, who has emerged as a do-it-all type of player for Lakeland Christian this year. The guard leads the team in points per game (10.5), assists per game (3.2), steals (4.2) and free throw percentage (63%), while also landing in the top three in rebounds (4.9) and field goal percentage (34%). Calizo expects his star junior to put together a big tournament for the team to go on a run.
“Katie is our leader and she has worked hard at filling that position. Her leadership skills have grown exponentially as the season has progressed, and I’m very pleased with how she has continued to improve and stretch herself as a basketball player,” Calizo remarked. “She will need to have complete games for us to advance. When she fills the box score, we are very successful. I’m looking forward to seeing how she performs on this tournament stage.”
Along with Reimink, another crucial player will be fellow junior Dayton Siebert, who often serves as the team’s secondary scorer (8.9 PPG) and primary rebounder (5.7 RPG). The team’s lone senior, Abbie Wirebaugh, averages just over three points a contest and serves the team well as a confident outside shooter. Lani Calizo plays tough defense and will get it done on the glass, while Anna Robertson is another forward that can score. As a team, the Lady Cougars average just 32 points per contest, but the team is able to grind out some defensive battles, as evidenced by its12 steals a night.
“I think the biggest struggle for younger players in this setting is not having the correct perspective. When players are stressed about the game, they usually don’t play well,” Calizo points out. We aim to get the players to play ‘their game.’ I want them to execute and play relaxed. I want them to focus on playing basketball and making the right play.”
Regardless of how the team performs when the tournament tips off later this week, Calizo is focused on making sure his players walk away from it more prepared for next season.
“This team is building for the future. No matter the outcome we will grow from this experience,” he said.

The Lakeland Christian girls basketball team has had its fair share of ups and downs this season, which is customary for a squad that features a plethora of underclassmen getting major varsity minutes for the first time. After a regular season in which the Lady Cougars managed a 9-14 record, head coach Craig Calizo is intrigued on how the team will fare in IHSAA 1A Sectional 53 at Northfield, and perhaps most importantly, how his players will grow from the experience.
“The experience of playing in big games is very important to a player’s development. To hear the crowd and play in that atmosphere is exciting. To be able to absorb the atmosphere and still be able to perform at a high level is the goal.” Calizo said. “To be able to have clarity in times of intense competition translates into many situations, even outside the game of basketball. This experience is invaluable.”
Lakeland Christian will need to win two games to advance out of their four-team tournament and into the regional round, with the first test taking place on Friday night in the first game against Southern Wells (6-15) before host school Northfield (10-13) takes on Southwood (7-14) in the second semifinal contest. The winners will meet on Saturday.
Despite his team going 0-3 against the sectional field, the closest game being a 15-point loss to Northfield, Calizo is confident that his team can string together some wins if they are playing at a high level.
“If we play to our potential, I believe we can have some success. We began the season as a very inexperienced team but as the season has gone on, we have seen some growth,” Calizo said. If we can play with confidence and execute, I like our chances.”
Leading the way for the Lady Cougars will be junior Katie Reimink, who has emerged as a do-it-all type of player for Lakeland Christian this year. The guard leads the team in points per game (10.5), assists per game (3.2), steals (4.2) and free throw percentage (63%), while also landing in the top three in rebounds (4.9) and field goal percentage (34%). Calizo expects his star junior to put together a big tournament for the team to go on a run.
“Katie is our leader and she has worked hard at filling that position. Her leadership skills have grown exponentially as the season has progressed, and I’m very pleased with how she has continued to improve and stretch herself as a basketball player,” Calizo remarked. “She will need to have complete games for us to advance. When she fills the box score, we are very successful. I’m looking forward to seeing how she performs on this tournament stage.”
Along with Reimink, another crucial player will be fellow junior Dayton Siebert, who often serves as the team’s secondary scorer (8.9 PPG) and primary rebounder (5.7 RPG). The team’s lone senior, Abbie Wirebaugh, averages just over three points a contest and serves the team well as a confident outside shooter. Lani Calizo plays tough defense and will get it done on the glass, while Anna Robertson is another forward that can score. As a team, the Lady Cougars average just 32 points per contest, but the team is able to grind out some defensive battles, as evidenced by its12 steals a night.
“I think the biggest struggle for younger players in this setting is not having the correct perspective. When players are stressed about the game, they usually don’t play well,” Calizo points out. We aim to get the players to play ‘their game.’ I want them to execute and play relaxed. I want them to focus on playing basketball and making the right play.”
Regardless of how the team performs when the tournament tips off later this week, Calizo is focused on making sure his players walk away from it more prepared for next season.
“This team is building for the future. No matter the outcome we will grow from this experience,” he said.

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