LAKEVILLE, IN. – Call it hard work, leadership, motivation, teamwork!
Its been seven season’s since the LaVille varsity girls basketball team started the season with a 11-4 record and consistently been among the Top 50 in defensive average. So far this season the Lancer ‘D’ is allowing 36 ppg and is 9-0 when holding the opposition at or under 36 ppg.
Along the way, LaVille has beaten two state-ranked teams and won a championship at the Kankakee Valley Holiday Tournament. The 2009-10 girls basketball team was the last to start the season 11-4 and won the LaVille Holiday Tournament.
The current version of LaVille Lady Hoops has five seniors, four of which are starters. Seniors Lindsey Aschenbrenner, Haley Berger, Haylie Cox, Aryn Eash, and Nina Sajdak have been around during the lean times.
“Starting off 11-4 really reflects on the leadership we have on the team,” said senior Eash. “We have five seniors on the team and that has really shown on the court. The biggest difference between this year’s team and the teams in the past is our ability to work together and control the tempo on the floor.”
Eash has been asked to be the “coach” on the floor, as the point guard. “Being a leader on the floor the past four years has been a challenge at times, but I’ve loved every minute of it,” said Eash.
The Lancers started the season by upsetting No.-24 ranked South Central (Union Mills), 45-29. Then, on Nov. 9, LaVille upset Class 1A, No.5-ranked Oregon-Davis, 67-59, in double overtime. That win over the Bobcats was the first in the last 11 outings against the perennial small-school power from Hamlet.
“I can’t be any more proud of my team and I’m so happy that our record reflects how hard we have been working in practice,” said senior Lindsey Aschenbrenner. “Although we are off to a good start, I know that the rest of the team and myself aren’t done yet and we want to accomplish even more before the season is finished.”
One of the more joyous times came Friday Dec. 29 when LaVille rallied twice to win the Kankakee Valley Holiday Tournament. A 43-34 come-from-behind victory over Rensselaer Central in the first round, followed by another come-from-behind win, 42-40, against the host Kougars to bring the trophy home to Lakeville. LaVille went to the same tournament a year ago and came home winless in two games. This year’s victory also earned a couple of Lancers – Lindsey Aschenbrenner and Aryn Eash – KV Holiday Tournament all-tourney honors.
“This season/group has been special for two reason,” said LaVille coach Corey Duncan. “The players are playing very unselfishly. They aren’t afraid to make that extra pass to get the best shot the offense has to offer. And the players don’t die when they are down. They keep pushing until the final buzzer. We have finally learned not to be satisfied with just competing with the other teams on our schedule . . . we want to win.”
Eash, Lindsey Aschenbrenner, and junior Shelfie Zeiger are leading an offense that is averaging nearly 47 ppg, up by six points per game.
“Lindsey, Aryn and Shelfie are all averaging double digit points per game,” explained Duncan. “We have had that my first two years here. Lindsey and Aryn are also alternating being the point guard,” continued Duncan. “When one shooter is on, the other one can bring the ball up. That’s been key so that Aryn doesn’t have to always bring it up if she’s the one that hitting that night. The rest of the team does a great job playing their roles. Haley Berger has had some real nice games for us shooting the three. Julia, Nina and Haylie have give us good minutes at the post position. Kelsey comes in off the bench and gives a spark on both ends of the floor. It’s very evident they all have the capacity to score, but care more about winning than who scores the most points.”
Eash hit some crucial shots as the Lancers rallied from a 12-5 deficit for 43-34 win against Rensselaer Central. Eash finished with a game-high 16 points, including 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, three rebounds and a couple steals. In the final game, Eash hit a pair of treys in a seven point third quarter to help LHS rally for a 42-40 championship game win against KV.
“Ending the first part of the season with a championship was incredible,” said Eash. “And being a part of the all-tournament team was a huge honor. I’m very excited to see what 2018 brings for us!”
Aschenbrenner got off to a slow start in the first game against RC, but helped the winning cause by hitting a big 3-point shot in the second quarter to finish with six points, four assists and a steal. The title game was a different story for Aschenbrenner. She led the offense with a game-high 15 points, including what was the game winning 3-pointer later in the game to give the Lancers a 40-38 lead. She also led the team with seven rebounds, dished out two assists, and a steal.
“Going into the KV tourney we were down coming off a loss to Central Noble,” said Aschenbrenner. “But we did a good job turning that around and recognizing that we were still a good team and we kept fighting the whole time. In my high school career we’ve never won the first round of any tournament, so finally getting past the first round and winning the whole thing was a great feeling. I wasn’t expecting to be named to the all tourney team at all, but it felt really good that coach believed I deserved it, along with Aryn.”