The Lakeland girls basketball team was taken to the wire Jan. 3 at Medford, but they were able to escape with a 59-55 Great Northern Conference win.

The game was a back and forth battle all night and came down to who could adjust. Fortunately for Lakeland, they were able to do so.

In the first half the Thunderbirds struggled with a trio of Medford scoring threats in Des Weissmiller, Brynn Ray, and Marissa Fronk.

The three Raiders combined for 30 of Medford’s 40 first half points and help them take a six-point lead at halftime 40-34.

The damage could have been worse, but the Raiders struggled containing Abby Parris and Mel Bruckner. The two combined for 22 first half points.  

But Lakeland’s patent trap and full court press is what caused the real problems for Medford.

“We did a nice job with our full court pressure,” Lakeland head coach Melissa Ouimette said. “Our back line was gambling more and picking off cross court passes. This caused a lot of pressure for their guards in the back court and produced plenty of turnovers. It made Medford play faster and caused them to make mistakes.”

Lakeland kept up the pressure in the second half and sought to shut Weissmiller, Ray, and Fronk down. They succeeded. The trio only scored 10 second half points, which was a third of their first half output.  

Medford, on the other hand, wanted to stop Lakeland’s Parris and Bruckner, but would only succeed in shutting down Parris, who had only three in the second. Bruckner scored 11 in the second half and helped the Thunderbirds outscore the Raiders 25-15 in the second, on the way to the 55-59 win.

“Melissa Bruckner lead all scorers and was 10 of 14 from the line,” Ouimette said. “Medford was very aggressive and did not let Melissa get to the rim without dishing out some bumps and bruises along the way. She was definitely a target they wanted to stop. Yet she was able to get to them quite a bit and lead all scorers. “

Lakeland’s Joeli Koehler also had a nice game, hitting pair of first half threes and couple second half field goals to finish with 10 points.  

“Joeli Koehler had 10 points for the night and had some nice outside shots, drives, rebounds and steals. She is becoming more confident each game,” Ouimette said.

Bruckner finished with 22 and Parris finished with 14 to help get the hard-fought win in a challenging environment.

“Medford is a tough place to go play in. They pack their fieldhouse with vocal fans,” Ouimette said. “We kept our cool and would make our runs. It’s always nice to leave Medford with a W.” 

For the Raiders, Weissmiller finished with 13, as did Ray, and Fronk ended up with 14. 

Lakeland improved to 7-5 overall and currently stand at third in the GNC at 3-1, behind Rhinelander an Mosinee.  

The Thunderbirds next played Amherst at home on Jan. 7 past deadline. Coverage will in Friday’s paper.

Jacob Friede may be reached at jacob@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.