By BOB ETTINGER
For the Star Beacon
SAYBROOK TOWNSHIP —
Perhaps no player represents the night the Lakeside girls basketball team had better than Shelby Smith.
Smith led the Dragons past visiting Cardinal, 63-42, on Monday night for their first victory of the season.
“It was a long time coming,” Lakeside coach Dave Malone said. “The last six games, we’ve continued to improve.
“Shelby had a big night for us. We had her on the block and she was able to capitalize. I thought everybody played well. We moved the ball well.”
Smith, a senior center, tallied 28 points — 16 on putbacks — and 21 rebounds.
“I couldn’t make a shot unless I got a rebound,” Smith said.
That was pretty much the story for all of the Dragons (1-13, 0-7 in Premier Athletic Conference). Lakeside missed 51 shots in the contest, but scored 22 of their 63 points on second-chance, and in some cases, third- or fourth-chance, opportunities.
“That’s been a problem all year for us,” Malone said. “We get shots, we just can’t make them.
“All year, we, initially, have gotten our shots. Tonight, we rebounded. Part of it was the fact there was a huge disparity in size in our favor.”
The Dragons were 31 of 81 (37 percent) from the field and had 67 rebounds. Four players — Smith, Alexis Benedict (12 boards), Stephanie Fusco (11) and Sarah Morehouse (10) reached double figures in that category.
“(Lakeside) rebounds and putbacks (hurt us),” Cardinal coach Darrell Haskins said.
The teams combined to miss 99 shots in the contest. Cardinal did manage to get 39 boards as a group, but for the most part, didn’t get enough defensive rebounds and had too many possessions that ended up with one shot and a Lakeside defensive board.
The Huskies (0-11, 0-4 in Chagrin Valley Conference Valley Division) were just 12 of 60 (20 percent) from the field.
“We’ve had trouble scoring all year long,” Haskins said. “For us to put up 40 (points) is, actually, not bad.”
Lakeside took a 14-4 lead in the first five minutes behind seven points from Benedict, four from Smith and a 3-pointer from Kristin Keasling.
“Actually, three of the last four, we’ve started well,” Malone said. “Early in the season, we would fall down, 20-0. We concentrate, No. 1, on getting a good start. The second thing we talk about is that we’ve got to compete in every quarter. Every quarter is a mini game.
“That (start) was huge. Falling back, like we did early in the season, it’s terrible to have to try and climb back.”
Which is the exact sentiment that Haskins expressed.
“(Falling behind early) is very unusual for my teams,” Haskins said. “Most of the teams I’ve coached have always started well. We don’t this year. When we get behind the eight ball, we don’t play a style that allows us to climb back.
“It’s hard to dig out of the holes we put ourselves in.”
Smith’s night was a career performance.
“We made it a key to get the ball inside to the post because we were bigger than them,” she said. “It wasn’t even just me. I had 28, but the other posts stepped up, too.”
Benedict had 15 points and Fusco six.
Christine Morris paced the Huskies with 15 points and Brooke Hauser had 10.
Ettinger is a freelance writer from Ashtabula.