ANDOVER - A glitch in the sound system at Pymatuning Valley High School on Saturday afternoon meant no national anthem or player introductions.
That wasn't the only thing that didn't go right for the Lakeview Bulldogs girls' basketball team in its non-conference game against the Lakers. In fact, Lakeview coach Adam Lewis might ask himself what did go right when he analyzes a 55-54 loss to PV in a battle of undefeated teams.
The Bulldogs normally live off of forced turnovers and transition baskets, but they met their match in the Lakers. Both teams had 20 turnovers, which was quite an accomplishment for the Lakers, who had nine in the first quarter.
Perhaps most disturbing to Lewis were mistakes the Bulldogs made trying to protect a slim lead late in the game. Three crucial Lakeview turnovers allowed PV a chance to score the final four points.
"We made mistakes that a mature team should not make, and I'm disappointed in that," Lewis said. "That falls on me because I didn't have them ready. We haven't been in that situation this year. Hopefully we can build upon that for the rest of the season."
The Bulldogs' record slipped to 17-1. The Lakers are 16-0.
It appeared the Bulldogs might have found a way to overcome their inconsistent play with a run of seven unanswered points and 11 of 13 that erased a seven-point deficit to start the fourth quarter. Lakeview led 52-49 at the time, but a fielder by PV's Megan Stech cut it to 52-51. Addison Becker then pushed the Bulldogs' lead to 54-51 with a putback of a missed shot.
When Rachelle Calvin stole an inbounds pass, all the Bulldogs needed to do was handle the press and wait to get fouled. That's when turnovers crept into the equation.
The Lakers inched to within 54-53 on a pair of free throws by Kelsea Brown. After another Lakeview turnover, Stech made the winning basket when she followed in a missed shot.
Alli Pavlik missed a running shot for the Bulldogs, but when Stech missed the front end of a one-and-one, Lakeview had another opportunity with less than 10 seconds to play. Abby Pavlik dribbled past pressure, only to lose possession when it was ruled the ball bounced out of bounds off her leg.
"We mentally checked out," Lewis said. "We were afraid. We played scared the last 45 seconds."
The Lakers did an effective job of handling defensive pressure after a shaky start in which the Bulldogs scored 14 straight points to take an 18-6 lead. Lakers coach Jeff Compan singled out point guard Geena Gabriel for her ability to beat the press.
Once the Lakers solved the press, they were able to get the ball inside for good offensive looks. Compan stressed the importance of working the baseline to avoid passes to the high-post areas.
"We wanted to attack the posts," Compan said. "Kelsea plays the post for us but is really like a guard. We thought if we could get the ball to the baseline and attack. Then we weren't throwing back toward Alli. You could see that any time we got stuck and threw a cross-court pass, it's a layup."
Pavlik, who's had games of 56 and 48 points, was limited to 16. Becker had 12 points and 11 rebounds, and Calli Schmitt finished with 12 points.
The Bulldogs missed Schmitt's inside presence for much of the game after she was whistled for her third foul in the first half (she fouled out at the 6:19 mark of the fourth period). The Lakers heated up at that time, going on a 21-8 run that turned an 18-6 deficit into a 27-26 lead in the second quarter. Lakeview took a 28-27 lead into halftime.
"I thought we had a little edge coming into this game," Lewis said. "Maybe I didn't have them prepared enough. It seemed like they were more prepared for us than we were for them."
The Lakers, who led 47-41 after three quarters, were led in scoring by Stech with 21 points. Brown had 20.
"Adam and I talked about it before the game," Compan said. "To have a game of this stature right before the tournaments is huge. To have a game where it's down to the wire and every little thing matters was important for us. We absorbed that (Lakeview 14-point run in the first quarter) and stuck in the game. They could have raced us out of the gym at that point."