Lakeside's Marissa Williams, reaches out to grab a rebound as Paloma Valley's Miranda Green tries to do the same Tuesday night at Lakeside High.
LAKE ELSINORE Despite losing 18 games last season — including all 10 Sunbelt League contests — Lakeside girls basketball coach Anthony Williams said there were some diamonds in the rough.
McKayla Barbee, for instance, was among the Valley leaders last year in 3-pointers with 65.
And Megan Wood made an impressive 146 free throws.
“We did some good things last year, but with our poor record, a lot of things went unnoticed,” said Williams, now in his fifth season. “Things are a little different this season.”
The Lancers are turning in gem-like performances nearly every outing.
Lakeside gave a rock-solid effort Tuesday night, defeating visiting Paloma Valley, 85-39.
“We knew if we won this game, we’d have a two-game lead in the league, so we really wanted to focus tonight and play as hard as we could, Williams said.”
Many of last season’s losses are turning into laughers this year. Lakeside (18-3, 5-0 in league) is riding a nine-game winning streak.
Lakeside doesn’t intimidate opponents during pregame layup drills. The Lancers play one of the smaller lineups in the Valley.
“We don’t have anybody over 5-foot-8, so we have to do something to compensate for that size,” Williams said. “The teams that we face that are bigger than us, we’re trying to run them up and down the floor to make those taller girls have to guard us in transition.”
The Wildcats (11-10, 3-2) had the edge in size. But every other aspect of Tuesday’s game was a complete mismatch.
The Lancers, who led by 12 points after one quarter, poured in 30 points in the second quarter to lead 52-29 at intermission.
“They’re really consistent with their pressure, and they work hard,” said Paloma Valley forward Jasmine Peters, who tied for the team lead with eight points. “They keep coming at you, and they never stop.”
The players say Williams offers many pearls of wisdom. That includes putting an emphasis on how to use their lack of height to their advantage.
“Basketball is not about tall players,” said sophomore forward Victoria Sosa, who at 5-foot-7 is one of the Lancers taller players. “It’s about everyone working as a team.”
Much of the Lancers’ success this season comes from harassing opposing players the length of the court — for the duration of the game.
“Our full court press is so effective this year because we’ve worked really hard on practicing that press,” said Sosa, who scored a game-high 24 points. “Our coaches makes us work on it until we get it right.”