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No. 7 Lakes holds off Bishop Foley for CHSL A-North division title WITH PHOTO GALLERY

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WATERFORD >> It hearkened back to the Red Wings’ Russian Five, the way the Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes’ reserves ground three key minutes off the clock, toying with the Madison Heights Bishop Foley defense the way the Wings’ five-man contingent of imports used to on the ice.

Pass, pass, dribble, pass, pass, shot, offensive rebound, start all over again.

Being able to survive that extended segment of the second quarter, when the Lakers had three starters in foul trouble, and just one upperclassman on the floor may have been the key to the No. 7-ranked Lakers holding off the Ventures, 40-34, to claim the Catholic League’s A-North division title.

“That was huge. Oh, that was big. That one possession on offense, we may have had it felt like six or seven offensive rebounds. I don’t know what it was, but I know for sure it was five,” Lakes coach Steve Robak said of the quarter in which the Lakers outscored Foley, 8-3. “It just felt like, man, even though we didn’t get a bucket on that possession, we kept them on defense, and took time off the clock.”

Certainly, when the Ventures (11-2, 7-2 CHSL A-North) did manage to mount a comeback against the starters for Lakes (10-3, 8-0), with a furious fourth-quarter burst, they were still doing it from a double-digit hole, making it that much harder to get over the hump.

They almost did, though, rocking the Lakers back on their heels.

“Absolutely. We had them on the ropes with our half-court trap, and that worked very well for us. That gave us some energy, got us back in the game,” Foley coach Dave Joseph said. “And it always help when you get steals or rebounds, and then you come down and score. Those kind of things, we do well at.”

Despite seven straight points from Jillian Ramos — as she nearly willed the Ventures back in front, with a 3-pointer, two steals and two layups — Foley could only cut it to two, but no closer. Ramos finished with a game-high 16.

The two teams, neither of which shot free throws well — 4-for-14 for Foley, 5-for-14 for Lakes — matched foul shots in the waning minutes, with Tiffany Senerius hitting 3 of 4 to extend the lead back out to the final score.

“They did (have us on the ropes). Second half, they kind of got us on our heels a little bit, and put a little scare into us for a little while. We got a little sloppy with the ball, and just making some bad mistakes. Just sloppy,” Robak said. “But we settled down, and got the ball, and were more patient. When we were patient — we talked about it in timeouts, and they can see it, they can sense it. We’ve just gotta do more of that, until it becomes the norm, and not ‘Oh, it happens every three possessions.’”

Lakes’ leading scorer Tiffany Senerius had 12 points, but with her, Sophia Hadash and Kayla Sanders on the bench in foul trouble, and Catherine Weddle (knee) unavailable to play, it left senior Nicole Willy on the floor with junior Olivia Hankey, sophomore Abby Hoffman, and freshmen Macy Senerius and Isabelle Kline for extended minutes.

But they managed to keep the lead at right near 10 points going into the second half, then the starters returned to keep it there going into the fourth. Kline picked up the scoring slack in the absence of Weddle, the team’s second-leading scorer, contributing nine.

“The second quarter was probably the one that hurt us the most.They were trying to play keep-away there, and we were trying to catch them, and had a little trouble,” Joseph said. “But we worked hard today. That game could’ve gone either way. I’m happy with the energy level, but we just need to learn to take care of the ball a little bit better, and be able to put the ball in the basket at the end.”

The Lakers have a two-game lead on Foley in the division, with two games to play. They face Clarkston Everest Collegiate and Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood on back-to-back nights this week to finish it out.

Foley's only two losses are two the Lakers.

The Catholic League tournament starts with quarterfinals on Saturday, Feb. 11.

“Hopefully we see them again, because that would be in the Catholic League finals, and maybe it’ll be a different outcome,” Joseph said..

Last Updated: 1/30/2017 10:47:16 PM EST

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