Big second quarter run pushes Mill Valley over Lansing

It was the first serious litmus test for the Lansing High girls' basketball team.

The Lions and Mill Valley met in Lansing Tuesday night for the hottest game in 5A on a cold night as two of the top teams in the classification met for a midseason preview of a potential state tournament collision.

Lansing, short on size, but big on grit, would battle the much taller and pedigreed Jaguars and despite all the Lion-hearted efforts the Mill Valley size and length was too much in a 55-36 win over the hosts.

Taylor Lang led Lansing (8-2) with 13 points while Gerenda Smith finished with 10 points for the Lions.

“Mill Valley is a good team, we aren’t going to sugarcoat it,” Lansing head coach KC Simmons said. “The scouting report going in, they basically did everything we had on it. We just didn’t do a good job on the scout, basically. If you give (Presley Barton) space to shoot, she is going to knock them down and we knew that. We tried to close the space on her and lost her at times. They got some easy points in transition at times and with Mill Valley you can’t give up easy points in transition like we did tonight, or leave shooters.

“They are a good team, but we did just did some mental things that we will grow from and move on.”

The first quarter saw the usually hyper-speed Lions slowed up as they knocked heads to the tune of a 4-4 tie through the game's first six minutes.

A mini burst by Mill Valley pushed them to a 9-4 edge going into the second quarter and would be a harbinger of things to come.

That momentum carried throughout the second quarter as Mill Valley outscored the Lions 17-8 over the next eight minutes to lead 26-12 at the intermission.

Lansing's biggest problem was their usual ability to attack the rim was diluted to the point that most of its shots came from 15-feet and further.

“We were trying to spread them out and make their bigs come out and defend a little more and get them away from the basket,” Simmons said. “They have two 6-2 girls so it is hard to drive, so we wanted to bring them out a little more. We are still trying to learn and get all this figured out to be one of the best teams in the state.

“We are not used to being an 8-1 team and getting in positions like this and getting a little PR from some of the media in the state. So mentally, we are still working on all the things whether its physicality or handling adversity in general.”

Things got worse after halftime as Mill Valley scored,the first eight points of the third quarter to go up 34-12 as Lansing players seemed tentative to attack, let alone look at the rim.

“It was more so at this point we just wanted to get a good look and at certain times people, when looking at the goal, didn’t think it was a good look so they just passed it back out,” Lansing senior Regan Gatson said. “They were nervous about certain shots being good shots.

“This game we were trying to work faster and hoping they would get tired eventually and you’d find open spots.”

Mill Valley took a 44-18 lead into the fourth quarter and the last eight minutes became essentially a formality.

Lansing will next play in the Wellsvile Tournament beginning next week.