Women’s basketball back on track in NAC

Danny Spatchek, Sports Editor

Senior forward KC Blahnik became the eighth player in Lakeland women’s basketball history to score 1,000 points in a career on Saturday, Jan. 23 during the Muskie’s 53-46 win over MSOE at the Moose and Dona Woltzen Gymnasium.

Blahnik commented on the feat, one she was unable to reach in high school.

“I think it is more special to do this in college than in high school because here I’m surrounded [by] and face great players every game,” Blahnik said. “It kind of feels surreal, like it hasn’t hit me yet.”

Blahnik entered the game with 996 points before a jumper with 6:59 remaining in the half put her over the thousand-point milestone and gave Lakeland a 21-10 lead.

“KC has been an outstanding person on and off the court,” Women’s Basketball Coach Teri Johnson said. “She is a hard worker and is extremely coachable. We’re excited that she reached this accomplishment, she deserves it for all the hard work she has put in.”

Sophomore guard Erin Cepa had a perfect shooting performance in the first half, going 4-4 from the field and 2-2 from the free throw line to help Lakeland claim a 36-13 lead at intermission.

“Erin has been a little streaky this season, but when she finds her shot, she’s on,” Johnson said. “She’s hard to stop. She moved around and penetrated and had some points inside and wasn’t just a perimeter shooter.”

A lacksadaisical start to the second half propelled the Raiders to a 19-5 run that allowed them to trim Lakeland’s lead to nine in the first nine minutes. MSOE pulled to within seven inside of the two minute mark, but would get no closer.

“We’ve run into dry spells in the second half a couple of times this season that have cost us games,” Johnson said. “We have to stay focused and show up in both halves. We’ve reached the point in the season [where] everyone is out to get everyone and we have to play disciplined basketball.”

Cepa finished the game with 18 points to lead all scorers while Blahnik chipped in with eleven points, six rebounds, and four steals.

On Wednesday, Jan. 20, in Fond du Lac, Wis., Lakeland ended their three-game losing streak with a convincing 65-47 win against a Marian team that committed 33 turnovers.

“We’ve wanted to bring pressure to force more offensive opportunities for ourselves,” Johnson said. “We stuck to our game plan and by halftime we had forced 19 turnovers.”

Lakeland scored the game’s first five points and never looked back as Marian shot just 6-of-20 from the field in the first half.

The Muskies had a 29-18 lead at halftime after a layup from senior forward Katie Kilton and a triple from junior guard Mary Dennewitz.

Lakeland closed the door on Marian with a 14-0 run starting at the 18:41 mark in the second half.

“We talked about not being so passive on offense and defense,” Johnson said. “When we get steals, we need to use those opportunities and attack defenses right away.

Blahnik led all scorers with 15 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Dennewitz and Kilton both cracked double figures, scoring ten points apiece.

“The last few games, people are really keying on Blahnik. That opens up the door for other players, and Kilton has been doing a good job for us in the paint,” Johnson said.

Sophomore guard Becca Tilleman had a game-high six steals for the Muskies, who have forced teams to commit over 30 turnovers five times this season.

On Wednesday, Jan. 26, at home, Lakeland defeated Rockford 59-39 on a night where the Muskies committed just five turnovers. The mark broke their previous season-low of 13 against Concordia Wisconsin as Lakeland committed their first turnover nearly ten minutes into the second half.

Rockford had the lead twice in the first half before Lakeland took control, cruising to a 31-21 halftime lead.

In the second half, Lakeland held the visiting Regents to four made field goals en route to a 20 point win.

Blahnik led the Muskies with 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting and collected nine rebounds. Dennewitz added eight points and five assists while senior guard Terra Hiben chipped in seven points.

Lakeland visits Wisconsin Lutheran on Saturday, Jan. 30 at 1 p.m. in Milwaukee.

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