BY DAN STICKRADT
WATERFORD — Last year it was little unexpected. This time around, Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes was predestined to make a run at another Final Four.
Now, they have reached that goal.
The Lakers never trailed Tuesday at Waterford Mott, rolling over Cinderella Bay City All Saints, 61-36, in a Class D girls basketball state quarterfinal.
WOLL (20-5), the defending state champs, will play on Thursday at Michigan State University’s Breslin Center against top-ranked Central Lake (26-0) and Miss Basketball Jasmine Hines at 7:50 p.m. in the state semifinals.
Central Lake defeated Portland St. Patrick 54-39 to advance to the Final Four for the second straight year.
The Lakers entered the state tournament ranked 10th even though they are unbeaten against Class D opponents. Now, they are two wins from claiming their second straight state title.
“The main thing is that we’re just excited,” said WOLL coach Steve Robak. “We’re back to Breslin. The girls worked hard all year for that (and) we’re excited.
“I know a lot of people didn’t pick us last season. We thought all along that we could win it,” added Robak. “I know that is the goal this year. We’ll see how we stack up against (Central Lake). Hines will get her points, but I know we’ll be ready to play.”
There was little suspense in Tuesday’s quarterfinals. WOLL led early 8-0 before All Saints cut the deficit to 12-9 midway through the first period.
That was as close as the Cougars would get.
By the end of the first quarter, the Lakers were up 17-9 and they used a 22-10 run in the second frame to go up 39-19 at the half.
Lakes canned 8-of-19 three-pointers in the first half to build the commanding halftime lead and never looked back against a team that won just six games in the regular season. All Saints finished the year 10-15.
WOLL shot near 50 percent (14-for-30) in the first half, while holding All Saints to just 8-for-22 shooting over the first 16 minutes.
In the third frame, the Lakers expanded the lead to 44-23, as all 13 players saw minutes after halftime for Our Lady of the Lakes.
Lauren Robak, Our Lady’s senior leader who is headed to Oakland University, picked up 18 points on the strength of four 3-pointers, to go along with six rebounds and four steals.
“This is a nice win for us. We came out strong,” said Robak. “We knew they would come out and play hard. We can’t let up. We just have to be ready to play (Central Lake) in the semifinals.
Robak believes that he team has played the entire season with a target on the back.
“We have to work harder because everybody is out to get us,” she said. “Coming out and everyone wants to beat us. So in this game, we just came out really strong. We can’t let up.”
Carlee Cottrell, a transfer from Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, added 16 points and three steals, Ava Doetsch had nine points, five rebounds and four assists and Lexie Robak buried a trio of e-pointers and scored nine for the Lakers. Jessica Parry also scooped up nine boards for WOLL.
All Saints was paced by Brandi Hartson, who scored eight with 10 rebounds. Marisa Ramirez added 10 points for the Cougars.