Out of the ordinary

CORTLAND – The Lakeview Bulldogs girls’ basketball team has this winning thing down pat.

In fact, it was almost too easy for Lakeview in winning its first 11 games of the season. Routs of 30 or more points were the norm, which is great for building confidence but potentially scary for when the first difficult test arises.

That happened Thursday night in an All-American Conference National Division game against the scrappy Newton Falls Tigers, who were like an ill-timed pop quiz on the schedule. The Bulldogs ultimately passed the test with a 47-34 win, but there were some uneasy moments.

“This was a great game for us,” Bulldogs coach Adam Lewis said. “We’re beating people by like 30 points on average, so we haven’t had a close game. I was really concerned how our girls would handle being in a close game in the fourth quarter as opposed to being up by 25 points. I thought they handled it well.”

The Bulldogs (12-0, 5-0 AAC National Division) struggled in falling behind, 12-9, after the first quarter. They regrouped and were seemingly on the verge of pulling away when they opened a nine-point lead in the second quarter, but the lead dwindled to five, 22-17, at halftime.

The game remained within striking distance for the Tigers (8-4, 4-1) into the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs scored 10 of the final 13 points.

Tigers coach Mark Baker looked for positives in a third straight defeat.

“With losing – and I’ll quote former Tennessee women’s coach Pat Summitt – we have a love-hate relationship,” Baker said. “You hate it because of how it makes you feel, which is basically sick, but you love what it brings out in the kids. It really makes you re-focus and get back to doing the things you did.”

Bulldogs senior Alli Pavlik was again the dominant force on both ends of the court. Pavlik, who’s averaging a little less than 30 points a game, made five 3-point shots in finishing with 31 points. It seemed that each time the Tigers got close to taking the lead, Pavlik made a shot from beyond the arc.

“We practice them (3-point shots) all the time,” said Pavlik, who’s made a living scoring in transition. “I think it’s just that rhythm and doing the same thing over and over, and I think it’s just starting to click.”

There was a choppy flow to the game. Neither team settled into a groove for any appreciable length of time. The Tigers hurt their cause by committing 25 turnovers.

Pavlik wasn’t totally surprised that the Bulldogs struggled, mainly because of the rivalry aspect of the game.

“We haven’t had much competition for a month,” Pavlik said. “So when we came across them, we knew they’re going to want to beat us; they’re tough.

“They’re a team that when it comes to stats, it doesn’t matter. It’s a rivalry game. Anything can happen. They held us to 30 below our average, so that was pretty scary. We finished the game out strong.”

Abby Pavlik was next in scoring after her older sister for the Bulldogs with seven points. Abby had five assists.

“We never got comfortable, and I don’t think they ever got comfortable,” Lewis said. “It’s a typical Falls-Lakeview rivalry game.

Hannah Zelle led the Tigers in scoring with 14 points. Gabrielle Kline had seven points in the first quarter and finished with nine.

Newton Falls is at Niles Saturday at 2:30 p.m. Lakeview hosts LaBrae Monday.