After getting out to an early commanding lead, the Dunkirk Lady Marauders (1-0) needed every one of Khee Nance's 12 fourth-quarter points in holding on to defeat the Lake Shore Lady Eagles (0-1), 44-35, Tuesday night during non-league girls basketball action.
"Khee is the girl on our team that we go to when the game is on the line," Dunkirk head coach Sarah Bogardus said. "And she really showed great leadership tonight when she took over and stepped up in the fourth quarter when we needed it the most."
The Lady Marauders held an eight-point lead for much of the game, until the fourth quarter when the Lady Eagles' Michaela Stepniak, who finished with a team-high 11 points, found her stroke, scoring eight points and getting Lake Shore to within one of the Dunkirk lead twice in the final eight minutes.
"She flip-flopped positions all game long," Lake Shore head coach Andrea Conrad noted of Stepniak. "She was going to the forward position and the guard position, and I liked that she listened to what I had to say at the half. She came through and she shot the ball and I also liked the way Josilyn Benton reacted late in the game and Miranda Aiken."
However, Dunkirk got back to playing the way they did early in the game, as Nance provided all the scoring they needed the rest of the way.
Dunkirk forged a 9-1 lead after the first quarter, as Lake Shore went 1-for-4 from the charity stripe and was unable to convert any field goals.
"Something we have really stressed going into this season is setting the tempo right from the beginning," Bogardus said. "Getting out on the fast break, running, using our speed to our advantage, and I was very pleased that we got off to a quick, fast start."
Nance paced Dunkirk in the second quarter, scoring 10 of her game-high 27 points, while Lake Shore finally converted a field goal, as Miranda Aiken hit a 16-footer with 4:20 left in the half.
The Lady Eagles made a few adjustments at halftime, but they were unable to cut into the Lady Marauders' lead, falling behind 30-22 as the teams headed into fourth quarter.
"I think Dunkirk did a great job with their spacing and the timing of their cuts," Conrad said. "We made some subtle adjustments."
Aside from getting the season-opening win, what impressed Bogardus the most was her team's ability to crash the boards, despite being out-sized.
"That's one thing that I am extremely proud of," Bogardus said of her team's ability to get to rebounds. "We were very small compared to them, and I thought that we controlled the boards despite their size."
Nance finished with 18 rebounds and added five steals while Lacey Clark added 11 points, 17 rebounds, five assists, three steals and three blocks.
For the Lady Eagles, Conrad hopes Tuesday's effort serves as a wake up call.
"I think the fact that all summer long, we didn't come to summer league games and we didn't come to free open gyms that were held twice a week at Lake Shore High School," Conrad said of what factored into her team's slow start from the field. "And the fact that we have had three practices together as a team out of the three or four weeks of practice."