Using relentless defensive pressure and blistering offensive pace, the Lakeland girls basketball team rolled Antigo on Tuesday night 75-38.

From the first handful of possessions for Antigo, it was clear they were going to struggle with Lakeland’s treacherous full court trapping.

“We were causing a lot of turnovers,” Lakeland head coach Melissa Ouimette said. 

The main instigator of those turnovers was Melissa Bruckner.

At the center of the trap, Bruckner was brilliant. Her quick hands and her good hops enabled her to intercept a multitude of passes, and once she did she didn’t have to go far for quick lay-ups right at the hoop.  

“I know Bruckner got a ton of steals right away on the press and, looking to score, if she took it in hard and strong she wouldn’t back down,” Ouimette said. “She took some pretty powerful hits and she took it head on, bounced back up, nailed some free throws.”

Lakeland’s smothering defense enabled the Thunderbirds to take an early 16-6 lead, and most those points were either off transition hoops after Antigo turnovers or finding Bruckner cutting through their man-to-man defense off of picks.

“They do a sagging man to man. We were doing a lot of cutting and picking and just looking for open shots,” Ouimette said. 

Eventually all the damage Bruckner was causing — she scored 16 of her 18 in the first half — forced Antigo to stack the defense in the middle of the lane and leave the outside vulnerable.

“When (Bruckner) scores a few it opens up wide open for the girls outside so its a nice balance,” Ouimette said.

Lakeland’s sharp shooters took advantage. Emma Salquist, Joeli Koehler, Vivian Trapp, and Abby Parris all had first half 3s for the Thunderbirds.

Between the stellar outside shooting and the punishing play in the lane, at halftime Lakeland was up 42-21 and the rout was on.

Antigo was not able to slow Lakeland down at all in the second half, as the Thunderbirds pushed the ball up the court on every possession.

“My girls like to play when it comes to scoring. We love scoring off the fast break. That’s the best way to play basketball,” Ouimette said. “We don’t like to set up offenses. I almost feel like we’ve been defeated if we have to set something up.

That pace ended up just pummeling the Red Robins. No matter what they did they could not stop the T-Birds.

When Antigo, again, tried stacking the middle in the second half, Lakeland’s Abby Parris took over and began slicing up the Red Robins from the sides of the lane.   

Parris scored 23 on the night to lead all scorers and Bruckner had 18. Emma Salquist and Amaya White also had good nights for the T-Birds, scoring eight each. 

For Antigo, Brinna Mauk had nine to lead the Red Robins while Laynie Weix and Greta Parsons had eight.

The win improves Lakeland to 8-5 overall and 4-1 in the Great Northern Conference, where they sit tied with Mosinee for second place, one game behind Rhinelander.  

Lakeland plays at Mosinee tonight at 7:30 p.m.

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