LAKE TWP.: A short-handed Norton girls basketball team ran into a Blue Streak buzz saw.
Relying on a talented group of base-line players, Lake dominated the visiting Panthers 55-20 Monday night in a nonconference game.
“Tonight was a big starting point for us because we have three games this week,” said Lake senior center Baylen Dyrlund, who scored a game-high 14 points to go along with four rebounds and three steals.
The Blue Streaks (15-3) feature nine seniors and are anxious to win their way back to a district championship game after a narrow loss to North Canton Hoover in last year’s title contest.
“We are a well-rounded team,” Lake assistant coach Scott Cassidy said. “I’d like to think we are solid at every position. These seniors have put together a great career here at Lake.”
Against Norton (9-10), Lake’s big players controlled all play below the foul line. Dyrlund, a West Liberty recruit, is listed at 5-foot-10, but plays much bigger in the post. She leads a deceptively strong unit that includes 6-foot-1 senior Kelsey Bryte (four points, five rebounds), scrappy sophomore Brandie Snow (10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, three steals), and senior super sub Lexie Gower (four points).
“I think people underestimate me,” Dyrlund said. “They see me and they’re like, ‘We can take her.’ But I just hustle, do my best, and we win games.”
Lake’s big girls are interchangeable and they gave Norton fits. The Blue Streaks used a 9-0 run midway through the second quarter to go on top 28-9. Lake led 45-20 after three quarters and blanked the Panthers in the fourth quarter.
“We have good chemistry and we feed off each other,” Snow said. “We can depend on each other.
“Baylen is a clutch player for sure. She’s very aggressive. She plays her heart out completely every game.”
The game got off to a choppy start with 11 fouls and 12 turnovers in the first quarter. The Blue Streaks then took control.
“With Baylen, and then with Kelsey, that creates some matchup problems for people,” Cassidy said.
Coach Henry Cobb and his coaching staff decided to move Snow from guard to forward and the move has paid dividends.
“Brandie has been grabbing a ton of rebounds every game,” Cassidy said. “She’s been playing very well.”
Gower provides solid depth and a physical presence as well.
“Lexie does exactly what we ask her to do, and she always gives us a spark,” Cassidy said.
Norton coach Brian Miller is two years removed from a district championship and having to push through season-ending knee injuries to two key players.
Junior forward Nina Dzombic has not played this season and was an important contributor when the Panthers won the district title in 2012.
Miller has had to lean on senior guard Brooke Robinson, who scored 12 of Norton’s 20 points. Robinson was a catalyst two years for the championship team as well.
Hannah Bergstrom added five points for the Panthers.