Francis Lewis’ quest for top playoff seed comes to screeching halt

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The defending city champions lost back-to-back games to Grand Street and division rival Murry Bergtraum last week, leaving them in third place at best when the girls’ basketball playoffs begin Feb. 24.

“It’s just frustrating because it messes up our seeding for playoffs,” senior guard Robyn Francis said.

The Patriots, which hadn’t practiced since Sunday because of the snow, fell to host Grand Street 61-46 Jan. 3 and let a seven-point fourth-quarter lead get away in a 53-45 road defeat to Lady Blazers the following day.

“I thought it hurt us a little bit,” Lewis coach Steve Tsai said of the weather’s effect on the schedule. “I thought we started OK. We had a certain game plan we went through and then slowly just faded.”

His team led 43-36 with 6:40 to go in the game only to see the advantage quickly erased and never recovered. Bergtraum closed the game on a 25-2 run behind Seton Hall-bound guard Ashanae McLaughlin (20 points) and center Alexandria Smith (12 points). The Patriots lost their patience on offense and couldn’t get back on track. The misses only fueled the Lady Blazers’ run and transition offense.

“In the beginning I thought we were patient and we were able to get shots that we wanted,” Tsia said. “That’s the thing. When teams starting making their run are we going to be composed?”

The teams played to a similar result on their first meeting Jan. 5. Bergtraum outscored Lewis 41-16 in the second half. Francis believes her team is struggling to put all phases of the game together consistently. This time they did not rebound or defend well enough to win against Grand Street and Bergtraum.

“That one thing missing is what makes us lose the games,” Francis said.

Her team got a big lift from reserve guard Cassidy Khan, who scored all 12 of his points in the second quarter. Lewis led 26-15 with 2:30 to go in the first half after a Khan 3-pointer capped a 14-2 run. Francis scored 11 points and Dominique Williams added eight.

Even with the playoffs two weeks away Tsai is not alarmed that the lull happened so late in the year. With time to make adjustment it may benefit his club long term because it could serve as a wake-up call.

Francis certainly took it that way.

“I don’t want to see us go down like this,” Francis said. “I want to come back with another championship. Nobody wants to end on a bad note.”

Posted 12:00 am, February 15, 2015
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