LAKE CITY - Coming back from Christmas break, Lake City sophomore guard Breanna Gates admitted there were some nerves about the long layoff.
But after practice on Wednesday, the Tigers' concerns were alleviated.
"We work really hard at practice to make sure we're always working running and keeping conditioned, and we were worried we weren't going to be in shape after the five-day break," Gates said. "But we worked hard in practice and she said we just needed to get out and get the win."
Facing Legacy Christian Academy Thursday, Lake City sprinted out to a 17-2 lead and never had to look back, cruising to a 60-25 home victory.
Against a young Lions lineup, the key for the Tigers was the half-court press, which worked wonders in the first half as Lake City held Legacy Christian to 12 first-half points.
"We start with the defense, start getting some early buckets to get our offense going," said Tigers head coach Candace Olstad. "It was a nice defensive game for us."
Gates added, "(Olstad) always tells us to not worry about the other team, and we need to do as much as we can right away. That's kind of what helps us. We do what we do best and that's play."
Using their considerable size advantage, the Tigers pounded the ball down low to Taylor Koller and Madi Green. Koller finished with 15 points, while Green had nine of her 11 points in the first half.
"Even as a freshman, Madi's definitely a scoring threat," Olstad said. "She's got a nice, soft touch, she can score with her back to the basket or from the outside at the free-throw line area. She and Taylor have been our offense, and it's always a mismatch, so we really want them involved."
And in the transition game, Gates was a force in the back court, finishing with 15 points. She also grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in the victory. Bailey Cronin chipped in with eight points and five assists.
"We've gone with the big lineup with three posts, but Breanna and Bailey have done a lot for us, especially on defense," Olstad said.
Leading 41-12 at halftime, Lake City led by over 30 points for the rest of the contest.
The Lions (5-4) were led offensively by Kayla Ruf's 12 points. No other Legacy Christian player had more than six points in the loss.
Now at 7-3 overall, the Tigers are off until Jan. 3, when they travel to Plainview-Elgin-Millville.
"We know we're at a high point right now," Gates said, "so we need to keep pushing and not let down right now. Starting next week, we got really hard teams coming up."