Livonia, Michigan- The Lawrence Tech and Madonna women’s basketball teams have created quite a rivalry with competitive games being becoming the normal expectation. This game on Saturday afternoon initially followed the script, but then head coach Kylene Spiegel had Lawrence Tech clamp down defensively after ending the first quarter with a two-point deficit, winning 75-51.
“She told us we had to work on our defense because we let them score 23 in the first quarter and we can’t let good teams do that,” senior guard Hayley Walkowski said. “Madonna’s a good team, so we just had to move our feet, rebound and keep pushing the ball.”
Lawrence Tech (6-1, 2-0 WHAC) led 23-21 after one quarter, but the extra attention to defense enabled the team to hold Madonna (3-5, 0-2 WHAC) to eight, 11, and nine points in each of the next three quarters respectively. As part of the defensive effort, Lawrence Tech limited Madonna’s senior forward, Becca Sabol to eight points. In the last meeting between these teams in last season’s WHAC quarterfinals, Sabol had a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Sabol’s offensive struggles were largely caused by the defensive presence of Lawrence Tech’s sophomore Rachel Price, a six-foot-one forward who transferred to the program in January and playing her first season in the program.
“She’s been nothing but a big help and her size is really disrupting good post players,” Spiegel said. “Becca just had an off night. That’s lucky for us, because she’s a really good post player and Rachel really stepped up.”
Walkowski led Lawrence Tech with 23 points after 9-10 shooting from the field and making all five free throw attempts. Junior forward Nicole Buckingham scored 19 and added two blocked shots. Sophomore guard Alexis Ayala grabbed a team-high nine rebounds. Walkowski, Buckingham and Ayala each had four assists, accounting for all but one of Lawrence Tech’s team assists. Spiegel’s team is filled with players who know how to locate their teammates anywhere on the floor with quick, accurate passes, which lead usually lead to easy scores.
“We’re with each other a lot, so it’s like a sixth sense,” Buckingham said. “You just kind of know where everyone is going to be and that comes from coach working us in practice and making sure we’re in the gym enough times out of practice to get to know each other, so we’ve definitely had enough time to get familiar with each other’s styles of play and we’ve adjusted really well to each other.”
Both Walkowski and Buckingham credit their team chemistry to team bonding on and off the court, with each citing their favorites for inspirational movies that the team has watched together. Walkowski’s favorite is Invincible, while Buckingham mentioned Remember the Titans, and a relatively newer film, 42.
“Not a classic yet, but it’s a good one,” Buckingham said.
This win gives Lawrence Tech six wins in it’s last seven meetings against Madonna dating back to two seasons ago.
“I think, especially for Madonna, most of those kids are juniors and seniors now, so my kids know them, they have played against them,” Spiegel said. “It’s just really big for us to know personnel and what they’re going to do so we try to base our stuff off of how do we scout and how are we’re going to come and really prepare for this game.”
Sophomore guard Jayla Mayes-Jackson led Madonna with 13 points, while senior guard Cris Harper added 11. Mayes-Jackson and Sabol each had six rebounds. Madonna will try to get back on track with a Tuesday road game at Northwestern Ohio while Lawrence Tech will host Aquinas that same day. The next game between Lawrence and Madonna will be on January 13 at Lawrence Tech.