HICKORY, N.C. — Parkland women’s basketball experienced a significant issue in its first matchup against Lake Land this season, but overcame the obstacle to collect a win.
That same issue cropped up in the second game between the teams, and the Lakers capitalized for a victory of their own.
When Parkland and Lake Land met for a third time — in an NJCAA Division II national semifinal on Friday night — the Cobras again struggled with that nagging issue.
And the second-seeded Lakers made the sixth-seeded Cobras pay dearly for their miscues.
Parkland committed 30 turnovers, en route to a 68-47 loss that bumped the Cobras (19-4) to Saturday’s 4 p.m. third-place game.
“It’s tough,” Parkland coach Allie Lindemann said. “Obviously they’re emotionally drained at this point. They fell short of their ultimate goal. We weren’t the better team (Friday), especially when you have 30 turnovers that late in the game. That’ll kill you.”
The Cobras committed 27 turnovers in a Feb. 25 win against Lake Land (24-2) and another 25 turnovers during a March 25 loss to the Lakers.
Mady Harper was a constant in both outcomes, with the Parkland guard generating 13 points each time.
Harper was held scoreless Friday night on just three attempts from the field.
Fellow starting guards Peyton Crowe (four points from the St. Joseph-Ogden graduate) and Ariana Booker (two points) didn’t fare much better.
“(Lake Land) did a great job on all of our guards. ... We just didn’t have that versatility within our scoring,” Lindemann said. “That’s a credit to their defense.”
Lindemann said prior to the game she wanted the Cobras to take advantage of their size inside. Parkland forwards Naomi McDaniel and Shaelynn Bell came away with 22 and 13 points, respectively, as part of that mission.
But the lack of guard scoring and the bench contributing just six points meant the Cobras needed McDaniel and Bell to be unstoppable.
“At the end of the (first) half, our bigs were 7 of 8 from the field, so we wanted to get them more shots,” Lindemann said. “I was hoping to take a little bit of pressure off our guards, get the ball inside to open things up (outside) a little more. But we just didn’t convert on that end.”
Kamaria Gant’s 17 points and Tri-County graduate Harley Barry’s 15 points paced the Lakers, who added 13 points from Olivia Niemerg.
Parkland did stage two rallies during the second half after falling behind 39-21 in the opening half.
The Cobras pulled within 39-30 and 55-45, but Lake Land put its foot on the gas in response to both runs.
“Our bigs did a good job when we made those runs. Naomi was phenomenal,” Lindemann said. “They had a couple defensive lapses we didn’t score off right away, and they broke through from that. Physically, by the third and fourth quarter, that was tough to come back from.”
Lindemann said the she and her staff are waiting until Saturday morning to discuss the final game of Parkland’s season, which still has important stakes attached despite Friday’s defeat.
The Cobras could become just the third team in program history to record a top-three finish in the national tournament, joining the 2014-15 runner-up group and 2010-11 third-place outfit.
“We’re in the Final Four, one of four teams left in the country,” Lindemann said. “That’s a huge mark and something they’ll always remember.”