Local talent leads Lake Land to national championship

Sports

MATTOON (WCIA) — Wherever Harley Barry goes, success seems to follow. The Tri-County grad led Lake Land women’s basketball to its first national championship and won the NJCAA D-II tournament MVP doing it.

“I just wanted to get the win for our team, and when that was announced, I just started crying,” Barry said. “I was just not expecting it at all.”

Barry already etched her name in the record books with the Titans, leading the program to its first trip to state in 2019. That prepared her to help the Lakers reach another program record of 16-straight wins on their way to the title.

“I just feel so thankful and so blessed for everything that I’ve had the opportunity to do, and it’s just unreal all the accomplishments that we’ve been through,” she said.

“And knowing your school’s name is going to be in that program for years to come as a National Champion, and I showed Harley I said, ‘You’re name is going to be right here,'” Lake Land head coach David Johnson said. “We’re so happy to represent Lake Land and have that type of experience.”

Johnson’s led the team to all four trips to the National Tournament. It would have been five after the Lakers won the district championship last season, but the pandemic put a halt to the season. Former Effingham standout Abby Weis used that as motivation to get back.

“We still took it one game as a time and before we knew it we completed our long term goal, and that’s what’s so surprising,” Weis said. “And when people ask us, ‘How does it feel?’ It kinda feels like we have more to go.”

The Lakers returned 10 sophomores to the roster this season, and as a class they’ve gone 55-5 over the last two seasons. They featured nine players from the WCIA 3 viewing area.

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