They were down a point after the first quarter. They were down a point at halftime. They were down a point after three quarters. At that point it was easy to suspect Fred Priester’s Oakton team might be destined to come up just short in their road game versus Lake Braddock Tuesday night.
But Oakton looked like a different team entirely as the fourth quarter began. The Cougars’ energy level increased, they changed up their defense a little, attacked the rim better and outscored the Bruins 17-4 the rest of the way for a 48-36 victory that seemed a lot easier than it actually was.
“Lake Braddock and us did play Saturday,” Priester said after the game. “But I think the kids’ first day back at school today made all of us a little sluggish in the first half. We just kept going through our menu of options until we found something that would cause them problems.”
It did take a while. Oakton did not play inefficiently the first three quarters, but were bullied a bit by the tall, physical Bruins. Lake Braddock out-rebounded Oakton 30-19 on the evening and did a lot of damage on the offensive boards. Bruins junior center Julia Joachim especially hurt Oakton, often coming from the weak side to follow up her teammates’ misses for baskets.
“#50 [Joachim] was giving us a few problems,” Priester said. “Peyton [Oakton center Perine] was over-rotating a little bit on defense. Once we said get on her hip and stay on her hip that helped a little bit there.”
Perine had a great all-around game for the Cougars (9-4), finishing with 12 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. You don’t see post players get that many assists all that often, but the senior demonstrated her passing skills by continuously finding her teammates within the Cougar offense.
“She’s really pretty savvy,” Priester said of his center. “She has great vision to see the floor and she’s actually very close to the team lead in assists.”
The entire team looked pretty savvy in the fourth quarter, playing much better defense to stymie Lake Braddock. On offense forward Kate Vietmeyer led the way with 13 points, while guards Grace Meshanko and Mina Mori added 10 and nine, respectively.
Joachim led the way for Lake Braddock (6-5), finishing with 14 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Elizabeth Otugo helped off the bench for the Bruins, scoring seven second-half points despite being hampered with an ankle injury. Junior power forward Alaina Park had six points and seven rebounds, but the Bruins’ main weapon never got into an offensive flow. While Oakton’s defenders gave up position down low to Park on a number of occasions, they were at least able to bother her shot and force misses–especially in the fourth quarter.
“We just didn’t convert shots,” Lake Braddock coach Tim Lucas said. “We had some shots, we had some opportunities and we didn’t do a very good job of stopping them in the post. That’s it, really.”
all stats are unofficial
|Threes: Miller 1-3, Boone 0-2, J. Park 0-2, Haynes 0-1|
|Threes: Meshanko 2-2, Vietmeyer 1-1, Coleman 0-2|