LAKEWOOD -- It’s no secret what Lakewood’s girls basketball team is going to bring defensively night-after-night: pressure, pressure and more pressure.
“That’s what we do. We butter our bread and hang our hat on defense,” Lakewood coach Chris Poisson said after a 61-42 home victory Wednesday against Class 5A Jeffco rival Dakota Ridge. “We get a lot of points off it. That’s how we try to win.”
The Tigers (14-1, 8-0 in league) jumped out to an early 8-0 lead by forcing turnovers that led to breakaway layups. Lakewood never trailed and limited Dakota Ridge (10-5, 6-2) to 5-for-22 shooting in the first half.
The Tigers held a comfortable 33-14 lead through two quarters.
“I’ve got to give Lakewood all the credit. They stick to their plan,” Dakota Ridge coach Doug Maier said. “Their 2-2-1 (press zone defense) is excellent and Chris (Poisson) does a great job coaching them up.”
Lakewood had a good scoring balance in the first half with sophomores Mackenzie Forrest, McKenna Bishop and senior Jessica Brooks combining for 22 points at halftime.
“Our plan tonight was defense and rebounding,” said Brooks, who finished with 11 points. “We executed really well.”
Dakota Ridge seniors Lauren Wood (15 points) and Jae Ferrin (13 points) combined to score 24 points in the second half. The Eagles cut Lakewood’s lead to 15 points late in the third quarter.
However, the final quarter belonged to Forrest. The sophomore guard had a stretch of eight straight points to keep Lakewood’s lead in double-digits.
“I just felt (Dakota Ridge) was getting too close and I didn’t want to put that on my team,” said Forrest, who finished with a game-high 23 points. “I wanted to put in my own hands. If someone else was open I would have passed it.”
The majority of the sophomore’s buckets were layups or arching floaters in the lane.
“(Forrest) was on tonight and got a lot of points off her defense,” Poisson said. “We have a lot of weapons. We didn’t shoot incredibly well, but (Forrest) did.”
Lakewood is now securely in the driver’s seat of 5A Jeffco after completing a sweep through the first go-around against conference opponents. The Tigers will put their 13-game conference win streak, dating back to last season, on the line against Arvada West on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Lakewood High School.
“I feel awesome. It feels great to know that we are halfway there and halfway to achieving our goal of a league championship,” Brooks said. “We can just taste it.”
The Tigers’ lone loss this season came last week in a non-league game against No. 5 Castle View. Lakewood held a halftime lead at home against the Sabercats, but eventually fell 55-46.
Dakota Ridge gets a chance to end its two-game losing streak when it hosts Pomona at 7 p.m. Friday. The Eagles suffered a tough 57-56 loss to Ralston Valley (10-3, 6-1) last week.
“They are going to be must-win games at the end of the year,” Maier said of getting another shot at Ralston Valley and Lakewood. “This team knows how to win. We’ve got a good stretch of games coming up here in the conference. We’ve got to get focused. We are still in it. Anything can happen.”
While a league title is the goal at the moment, taking a deeper run in the postseason is in the back of the Tigers’ minds.
“Last year making the Sweet 16 was nice. Now we expect it,” Poisson said. “This is a really good group and fun to coach. I’m not taking this for granted. I’m riding this wave with these great kids.”