The Lakeland Thunderbirds had little trouble getting by the Northland Pines Eagles girls basketball team last Friday, leaning on their star player Julianna Ouimette as she scored 29 and propelled the Lady T-Birds to a 72-20 win at home.

“The Lakeland game was one of those nights where we could not get anything going on the floor,” coach?Josh Olivotti said. “Our defense was inconsistent and offensively we struggled with movement and making shots.”

Ouimette wasn’t just a force offensively, but she wreaked havoc on the Pines guards as she picked up 10 steals on the evening to help Lakeland pull even with Medford at 5-1 in the Great Northern Conference (GNC) standings.

“We really struggled with shooting this week and reverted back to rushing shots and not getting our footwork correct going into shots,” Olivotti said. “Our girls need to stay more relaxed on the floor and start shooting in rhythm.”

With a game earlier in the week against Medford, where Pines also came up short in a 58-26 loss on the road, Olivotti said there were a lot of similarities in the games between both Medford and Lakeland.

“Medford and Lakeland both played us in the same press setup and they both have very skilled players in the front of that action,” he said. “I did feel that we handled the press action fairly well in both games, meaning that it was not so much that they turned us over, but we turned ourselves over.

“Fundamental mistakes with just passing and catching and using ball fakes happened way too often in these games.”

He said though both the games ended in lopsided defeats, there were a great deal of reasons to feel good about the upcoming schedule, especially after breaking things down afterwards on film.

“A positive from this week was the second half in Medford where we completely changed the style of our play, rotated a lot of girls on and off the floor and forced a tempo where our kids just played without having the time to overthink on the floor,” he said. “We pressed them hard and pushed the ball up the floor on every possession. They handled this well and we played right with Medford throughout the half. Now we need to show some growth and maturity and do this for an entire game.”

Olivotti said he and his staff continue to see flashes of good individual development, but feel they are far enough along in the season now that they need to see some consistency and cohesion from the team.

“We struggled with our overall game play and intensity level on the floor and we need to move forward from this week,” he said. “We will have good opportunities against Antigo and Tomahawk if we can show some consistency and play a full game.”

After traveling to Antigo Tuesday, the team returns home Friday for matchup with the Lady Hatchet. Game time at the Pines Fieldhouse is set for 7:15 p.m.

GNC Standings

Lakeland and Medford are each on three-game win streaks in conference play heading into this week while Mosinee (4-1) dropped their first contest of the conference season Friday as Medford came in and took a close 47-43 contest to keep it a three-team race atop the GNC.

Mosinee is set to travel to Lakeland this week which will give one of the two teams their second loss of the year. Medford then hosts Lakeland this coming Friday.

At 3-3 in the GNC is Rhinelander who sits two full games ahead of Antigo (1-4), Northland Pines (1-6) and Tomahawk (0-3).