LIVINGSTON — Lee High guard Diamond Hunter knew her team’s second-leading scorer was in early foul trouble against Doyle on Thursday night.
So she stepped up the pace and poured in 32 points to lead the Patriots to a 74-66 win in a frenzied nondistrict showdown.
The game featured two of the area’s top teams, both determined to apply relentless pressure to the opposition and turn the matchup into a baseline-to-baseline foot race.
Lee’s plan was hindered early when forward Aniya Lagarde was benched after committing a couple of quick fouls.
Coach Valencia Wilson said Lagarde’s absence meant her teammates were going to have to expend some extra effort.
“She averages 16 points a game for us, so we knew someone needed to step up,” Wilson said.
Lagarde re-entered the contest in the fourth quarter and scored back-to-back baskets to help the Patriots (14-3) keep Doyle in check down the stretch.
Lagarde said she wasn’t just sitting by idly during her hiatus from the game. She was planning on how to make an impact once she returned to action.
“I don’t like to be out of the game, but it gave me some time to reflect and fix the things I was doing wrong,” Lagarde said.
Lagarde finished with 12 points, behind Haley Franklin’s 14.
Doyle (17-3) jumped out to a 21-19 lead after one quarter but missed opportunities both from the field and at the free-throw line.
The Tigers finished 4 of 13 from the free-throw line. Presleigh Scott led the hosts with 28 points, followed by Elise Jones with 15 and Meghan Watson added 11.
Watson was neutralized in the third quarter when she also ran into foul trouble. By the time Watson returned midway through the fourth quarter, Lee had already taken control. Watson fouled out at the 1:24 mark with Lee holding a 66-61 lead.
Doyle coach Samantha White said the Tigers were hamstrung by poor shooting, and Watson’s absence hurt in more ways than one.
“Meghan is one of our best rebounders, so we really missed that part of her game,” White said. “But if we knock down some of those shots, it changes the tempo and the course of the game. We practice free throws a lo, but just couldn’t get it done tonight.”
White added that playing quality opponents like Lee will benefit her team. Doyle opens league play at home against Northlake Christian on Tuesday.
“Lee is undoubtedly one of the best teams in the state, and they played really well. Playing high-caliber teams will help us down the road,” White said.
Lee begins district play on Jan. 21 against St. Michael.