The wait finally ended for Lakeland Christian fans on Thursday night, as the Lady Cougars finally played their first game of the season in front of their home fans. A strong performance on the glass and in the paint led to a 48-10 season-opening victory for the Lady Cougars.
“It’s a brand new team so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I think we did a lot of good things tonight,” LCA head coach Craig Calizo said after the game. “We played hard and executed well for the most part and I’m hoping to build on that.”
The game’s opening moments belonged to LCA junior Katie Reimink, who put everyone watching on notice with four points and a steal in the opening fifteen seconds of the contest. It was just the beginning of what would turn into a nearly perfect opening period for Reimink and the Lady Cougars, who got off to a lightning quick start in their first action of the 2023-24 season.
Career Academy would use its first timeout just 90 seconds into the game with Lakeland Christian already up 8-0. The good times would keep on rolling following the break in action, as the Lady Cougars were able to turn their stout defense into easy offense at lightning pace. While Reimink paced all scorers in the first quarter with nine, the junior didn’t stop there. Reimink was everywhere for LCA, getting her teammates onto the scoreboard as well with some sharp passing as well as getting into passing lanes to disrupt the Trailblazers. After a quarter of action, the Lady Cougars were already up by double figures, pitching a shutout and holding onto a 17-0 lead.
“I’m hoping Katie’s going to be one of our leaders this year, she’s one of our few returners,” Calizo said. “I hope she can continue to lead this young team. She was awesome tonight.”
Senior Abbie Wirebaugh of LCA shoots from the corner during Thursday night's home game against Career Academy. Photo by Gary Nieter
As Reimink owned the first quarter, the second belonged to LCA’s Olivia Stenoish. The junior was a menace at both ends of the court, turning a steal at one end into an easy layup on multiple occasions. Stenoish would score six points in the quarter to go into halftime with eight.
The second quarter was a better display of talent for Career Academy, who sharpened up on defense, allowing just two points in the first six minutes of the period. The Trailblazers were also much more intent on crashing the offensive glass, stealing more than a few possessions away from LCA by getting extra looks off of missed shots. Eventually, Career would get its first points of the game to fall on a layup, halting the Lady Cougars’ game-opening run at 19-0.
Even with the visitors beginning to figure some things out, Lakeland Christian was able to find a bit more separation in the final minute of the half, and took a 24-5 lead into the locker room.
The Lady Cougars kept it rolling in the third, with three different players scoring the team’s first three baskets. The suffocating defense that had helped LCA build its lead early reappeared here, allowing the Lady Cougars to extend their advantage once more. Lakeland Christian also began figuring it out on the glass, having four players with at least five rebounds by the time the third quarter ended. Reimink continued her torrid pace, hitting her third three of the game to extend her team’s lead to over 30.
“Rebounding is going to have to be big for us. In order for us to compete night in and night out we’re going to have to limit other teams to one shot a possession and steal some extra ones of our own,” Calizo said.
The lead sat at 43-8 going into the fourth after two baskets in the final minute of the third by Anna Robertson, causing the running-clock rule to go into effect. Dayton Sibert, who had gotten into foul trouble early, got back into the game and made an impact down low, finishing off some nice post moves with easy layups.
Reimink finished her night with a game-high 21 points to go with her five rebounds and five steals. Stenoish ended the night with eight points, six rebounds and six steals. Sibert had seven points, five coming in the fourth quarter. Lani Calizo tallied just two points, but led her team with eight rebounds.
The Lady Cougars play their next game Tuesday at home against Harlan Christian.