The defending Class D state champions are still defending as the Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes Lakers overcame their biggest rival en route to a regional championship.
The Lakers defeated Marine City Cardinal Mooney, 43-41, in a Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) Class D regional semi-final at Auburn Hills Oakland Christian on Tuesday, March 8, on a game-winning shot by Lauren Robak with just over a second left in regulation.
“This was the most incredible win we’ve ever had,” said Our Lady Head Coach Steve Robak. “Our girls played their hearts out and gave it everything they had on the floor and we were able to get the win. We are two of the best teams in the state and we knew that whichever team won has a good chance of advancing far into the playoffs.”
Then on Friday, March 11, the Lakers (19-5) defeated Southfield Christian, 51-43, in an MHSAA regional final.
Our Lady took on Bay City All-Saints on Tuesday, March 15, after press time at Waterford Mott for the right to advance to the MHSAA semi-finals at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.
If the Lakers won yesterday, they will play on Thursday, March 17 against either Central Lake or Portland St. Patrick in one of the two state semi-finals.
The Class D state final is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, March 19.
Last Tuesday’s matchup of the Lakers and Cardinals (15-6) didn’t disappoint as it marked the fourth meeting of the season between the two schools and the fifth time that they have met in either a state regional game or a state quarter-final.
Our Lady was tied with the Cardinals in the first quarter before Mooney rattled off 5 straight points to take a 10-5 lead.
Points were at a premium in the second quarter also as Mooney took a 17-13 lead at halftime.
Our Lady came out of the locker room and hung tough with the Cardinals, trailing 27-25 at the end of the third quarter.
The Lakers eventually tied the game in the fourth quarter and took their first lead of the game on a Lexie Robak 3-pointer.
But Cardinal Mooney quickly swung momentum the other way and took a 40-34 lead with just over 2 minutes left.
The Lakers then clawed their way back with a steal and layup by Ava Doetsch and a bucket and free throw by Lauren Robak to cut the lead to two.
After Carlee Cottrell hit the first of two free throws to cut the lead to one, she missed the second, but Lauren Robak grabbed the rebound and was fouled.
She then hit both free throws to give Our Lady a one-point lead.
Breagh Beaton then split two free throws to tie the game at 41, which set the stage for an incredible finish.
Lauren Robak wound the clock down to 8 seconds before weaving around two Mooney defenders to the left side of the floor and then pulled up over Beaton in the lane and banked in the game-winning shot with 1.5 seconds left.
Lauren Robak finished with 21 points and 7 rebounds while Cottrell had 10 points and 6 rebounds and Doetsch had 7 points, 3 steals and 3 rebounds.
Our Lady then took on Southfield Christian (13-3) in the regional final two days later and were tested by the Eagles.
The Lakers led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter and 29-22 at halftime. Our Lady then took a 41-35 lead at the end of the third quarter and finished off the Eagles in the fourth to secure the win and the regional championship.
“Even though this wasn’t the type of game we were happy with our play, we are very pleased with the outcome,” Coach Robak said. “This time of the year, a win is a win, and sometimes you need to win some ugly games to advance.”
Lauren Robak finished with 30 points, 15 rebounds and 5 steals, while Doetsch had 8 points, 5 rebounds and 2 assists. Cottrell also had 6 points and 4 rebounds, while Lexie Robak had 5 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 assists and 2 blocks.
The Lakers now hope to see themselves this Saturday in the same place they were a year ago, hoisting the Class D state championship trophy.