After the Bexley High School girls basketball team lost to Buckeye Valley 44-39 on Dec. 20 to drop to 0-6 overall, coach Jim Strode knew something had to change. The Lions were averaging only 34.3 points at the time and Strode was looking for someone to take charge offensively.

After the Bexley High School girls basketball team lost to Buckeye Valley 44-39 on Dec. 20 to drop to 0-6 overall, coach Jim Strode knew something had to change. The Lions were averaging only 34.3 points at the time and Strode was looking for someone to take charge offensively.

"I asked them, 'So, if the game came down to one shot, who would you want to take it?'" he said.

Senior guard/forward Sara Prater was the first to speak.

"I'd want Lydia Lake to take it," she said.

The rest of the team nodded in agreement.

Buoyed by the show of support from her teammates, Lake, a junior point guard, stepped up offensively. She averaged 6.0 points through six games with a 10-point performance against Buckeye Valley being her only game in double figures. Over the next eight games, she averaged 14.5 points, scoring in double figures in each contest, and was the team's leading scorer in all but one game.

Bexley went 5-3 in those games.

"We knew Lydia always had it in her," Strode said. "Having heard that from her teammates, she has taken the responsibility to score and be more offensive."

"It felt so good that they had confidence in me," Lake said. "It put a little bit of pressure on me, but I was confident."

The role is much different than one Lake had last year when Bexley finished 13-8, as she came off the bench as the Lions' sixth or seventh player and usually distributed the ball more than shooting it.

Bexley lost its top outside shooter, Kylie Soga, and its top post player, Jelicia Shelton, from a year ago to graduation. But given the time that Lake dedicated to improving her game during the offseason, Strode knew she would be ready to take on a bigger role this season and help fill the void left by the departure of Soga and Shelton, who combined to average 27 points last season.

"Lydia is a gym rat," Strode said with a laugh. "She's always begging in practice to be done with the drills so she can actually play a game."

"I grew up with three brothers who all played basketball, so I was always in the gym with them," Lake said, referring to 2009 Bexley graduate Jack, 2011 Bexley graduate Josh and seventh-grader Isaiah. "I always had to play against my brothers and their friends. I think that (carries over to) the court."

Strode moved Lake to a wing position for a couple games and put junior Michelle Ghitman at point guard in an effort to free up Lake, but he later switched Lake back to point guard.

"The girl bringing the ball up the floor has the best view," Strode said. "If you can set up some plays for that girl, you can be pretty effective.

"Typically, you ask the point guard to facilitate. We've told our point guards once you make that first pass, you're a part of the offense. Your responsibilities as point guard are pretty much over."

As effective as Lake has been as a scorer lately, Strode wants other players to contribute more offensively.

Through 14 games, Bexley had four other players score in double figures in at least one game.

In a 56-49 win over Columbus Academy on Jan. 7, the Lions had a balanced attack, with Lake (18 points), freshman Elise Torrance (12) and junior Briana Stewart (10) all scoring in double figures. Then, in a 54-47 loss to Licking Valley on Jan. 13, Lake and Stewart both had 20 points.

That was followed by a 53-44 win over Heath on Jan. 17 in which the Bulldogs held Lake in check for most of the game but junior Meghan Heckman scored a season-high 14 points. Lake scored nine of her 11 points in the third quarter with three 3-pointers as Bexley outscored Heath 18-6.

"Lydia struggled a little bit most of the night, but we had other kids starting to step up," Strode said. "We told our kids unless we all have a scoring mentality, we're going to be the easiest team in central Ohio to scout.

"If I'm having a bad night, I'm confident other people are going to step up and score," Lake said. "The Academy game was probably the most fun game of the year because I had my shots but everyone else put in their shots as well."

The Lions have MSL-Ohio Division games Friday, Jan. 27, at Newark Catholic and Tuesday, Jan. 31, at home against Granville.

Lake was held to six points in a 47-29 loss to Newark Catholic on Dec. 13 and seven points in a 48-30 loss to Granville on Dec. 17.