The Rock beats Lafayette


Lafayette’s Rhoda Reid, left, catches a rebound and dribbles past defenders from The Rock on Tuesday.

Special photo by Jasmine Luoma
Published: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 11:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 19, 2010 at 11:50 p.m.

Two girls basketball teams that should win at least 20 games and contend for regional championships met Tuesday evening at The Rock.

And with 2:12 remaining in the third quarter, it was just a six-point game. But that’s when the size of the host Lions finally became a little bit too much for athletic and scrappy, but undersized, Lafayette, as The Rock came away with a 67-45 victory.

Leading the way was the Lions’ tall and talented front line of 6-foot-3 senior Tampa commitment Greta Bartkute (17 points, eight rebounds, three assists, two steals), 6-4 junior Viktorija Dimaite (26 points, 15 rebounds, four blocked shots) and 6-2 junior Paulina Zaveckaite (15 points, 15 rebounds, three steals).

They were steadily fed by do-it-all junior point guard Kornelija Valiuskyte, who added seven assists and eight steals to her nine points.

“We tried to pack it in and keep them off the boards,” said Hornets’ coach Jimmy Blankenship, whose team has reached at least the regional final in every season since 2005. “We did OK for a little bit, but not the whole game.

“Also, and I’ll probably get fined (by the FHSAA) for this, but I think officials give them too much respect and us not enough. They’re taller, but over the back is over the back, whether you are 6-foot-5 or 5-foot-6.”

Refereeing concerns aside, Blankenship, whose team dropped to 18-5, said he was impressed with the Lions (19-2).

“They do a lot well and are a better team than us,” said Blankenship, who got 24 points from senior swingman Sunshine Reid and 19 from junior point guard Cartaesha Macklin, totaling all but two of the team’s 45 points. “In my 10 years (at LHS), I haven’t had that kind of height, but I’d love to sometime.”

The Rock coach Fabian Chapov said the game provided a nice test for the Lions, who are unbeaten since Dec. 28 and are hoping to advance to the first final four in school history late next month.

“I knew they’d be good because we played them last year (a 51-43 victory on Nov. 18, 2008),” Chapov said. “They’re coach has been there a while, and he does a really good job.

“They don’t have a lot of height, but they are a smart team that plays hard.”

Still, that wasn’t enough against the Lions, who aspire to a Class 1A state championship this year, but might end up even better in 2010-11, as this year’s starting lineup is made up of one senior and four juniors. And they seem to be approaching each game with maturity.

“We knew (to beat Lafayette) we had to hustle and get over ourselves,” Bartkute said. “We had to put aside personal goals and follow the common goal of not making turnovers, playing smart and helping each other to win.”

Mission accomplished.

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