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Lakota West gets big game from Katie Fox in win over Toledo Central Catholic at Classic in the Country

The sophomore had 30 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Firebirds in the win

BERLIN, Ohio - Katie Fox could have scored on a 2-on-1 break for Lakota West late in the fourth quarter of a 65-56 win over Toledo Central Catholic at the Classic in the Country.

Instead, the 5-foot-10 sophomore saw Central Catholic's Brooklyn Vaughn on defense, drew her close and threw a bounce pass around her back that hit teammate Caroline Bayliff right in the hands for an easy layup.

"I saw somebody come in who's a great defender on the other team and I actually play AAU with her so I knew that she was coming," Fox said. "And I trust Caroline, I knew that she was going to hit that layup and she had a more open layup than me. So I just thought I might as well just give her the ball. And it just flowed naturally."

Her unselfish nature was on display more than just on that one play, however.

"We have a defender of the game award and the happiest moment that I saw (Katie) today - and it's consistent with her character - was when Caroline Bayliff got the award for taking that big fourth quarter charge," Lakota West head coach Andy Fishman said. "Katie just lit up and was so happy for her buddy."

While the behind-the-back pass might have been the highlight of the game, Fox did her share of scoring in the game as well, as she led all scorers with 30 points. 

Fox mixed in a bit of outside game with the inside game to get her 30 points, which is something she credits to the work she put in this past offseason.

"We work really hard as a team and coach gets us in the gym all the time," Fox said.  "There's really the mindset of coming in and having to be better than you were last year. I had a tough few games at the beginning of the season, I was a little bit off, but I feel like if I just keep on working and staying after practices and getting as many shots as possible and working with your teammates, things just fall in place."

Along with the extra work in the gym, Fox has gotten better physically, according to her coach. It showed on Saturday when Central Catholic got out to an early 10-point lead before the Firebirds settled in and started chipping away.

"She's physically stronger now," Fishman said. "(The Central Catholic) coach did a great job, he changed his defensive scheme and was face guarding her all over the floor. And I think in the past, she let that get in her head. But now, she lets the offense work for her. She set good screens, I always believe that when you're being faced or denied the ball full court, setting screens is a great way to get open. And she bought into that."

Fox believes the reason she is getting face guarded more this season is simply because last season she was a relative unknown to most teams. 

"My freshman year, nobody really knew who I was," Fox said. "I had been at a private school for most of my life. And then I just transferred into a public school so nobody really knew who I was. So I wasn't being guarded as closely but near the end of the season, I was being faced guarded, so I feel like it was really important to learn how to come off of screens and learn how to roll and read the defenses."

But it wasn't the offensive side of the ball that Fox thought she had improved on the most from freshman year to sophomore year.

"I worked on (my defense) a lot during the offseason," Fox said. "I wasn't a great defender freshman year, and I feel like I've been working on that a lot more, and I've gotten faster. I feel like when you're coming in as a freshman, you're a little bit softer. You're not used to all the high-level players that are so amazing, but now I'm starting to catch up and I'm starting to play up to my potential."

In the win over Central Catholic, Fox showed off her defensive improvement with three steals and two blocked shots. She also grabbed 12 rebounds.

 "Her defense was great today," Fishman said. "She blocked a shot at least one if not two. She closed out, she walled up really well and that put her in good rebounding position."

-- Ryan Isley | | @sbliveoh

(Feature image by Jeff Harwell, SBLive Sports)