Solid defense and turnover troubles prevented the Lyons Township girls' basketball team from improving its conference record to 2-0 as the Lions fell to conference rival Oak Park and River Forest 56-40 on Friday night.
The Lions (2-4, 1-1 West Suburban Silver) were hoping to get 6-foot-1-inch senior center Lindsey Blazek the ball as much as possible against a young OPRF squad. However the Huskies' aggressive and stingy defense did not allow Blazek or Lyons to develop any offensive rhythm, and forced the Lions into some sloppy play and poor ball control.
"We knew Oak Park was a tough team especially defensively," LT head coach Dawn Schabacker said. "They forced turnovers and took advantage, and we didn't play our game."
A strong defensive first quarter by both teams led to an 8-8 tie with one minute remaining. The Huskies put on the full court pressure however, which lead to a couple Lyons turnovers. OPRF was able to convert these into two quick baskets for a 12-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Huskies (6-1, 1-1) increased the heat defensively and were able to disrupt Blazek, holding her to only four points in the first half. Lyons guards Brittany Yelnick (6 points), Lauren Kazmierczak (9 points) and forward Jill Keeve (6 points) tried their best to pick up the slack for Blazek, but four second-quarter three-pointers by OPRF's Caley Hague hurt the Lions, as they went into halftime down 34-15.
Lyons came out of the break with some fire, striking first on back-to-back baskets by Kazmierczak, one a three-pointer. But two quick baskets by OPRF countered Lyons attack and put the lead back at 18.
Again Yelnick and Kazmierczak did their best at the offensive end, and Keeve with four points from the free-throw line kept the Lions breathing, but they could not get Blazek into a rhythm or work around the press of the Huskies. At the end of the third quarter the Lions were down 48-29.
Lyons gained brief life in the fourth quarter as Blazek finally got some momentum, scoring eight points and eventually bringing her team within 11.
But the Lions could not find an answer for forward Amber Slaughter, who scored a game high 15 points.
"We got the game to within 10, but we're a young team and we just couldn't get any closer," Schabacker said. "They took us out of our game all night."
The Lions bounced back from the tough loss by defeating York Saturday 49-42. They'll host conference foe Hinsdale Central on Dec. 14 at 6 p.m.