The Lake Land Lakers made school history on April 24 by reaching the top of the national tournaments and becoming the NJCAA Division II National Champions. The victory became even more momentous for …
The Lake Land Lakers made school history on April 24 by reaching the top of the national tournaments and becoming the NJCAA Division II National Champions. The victory became even more momentous for Lake Land senior and Shiloh alumnus Harley Barry when she was crowned Most Valuable Player of the championship game.
“I’ve gotten an award kind of like this, but not this big,” she said.
The recognition did not come easy for the team or Barry herself. The Lakers had been laser focused for years on reaching the national championship, both for themselves and for their coach, Dave Johnson, who wanted the big win before his retirement. Tantalizingly, they were on their way there in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down sports across the country. This disappointment only made their arrival at the tournament that much more valuable to the Lakers.
“It was kind of mind-blowing. We all had that goal from day one,” said freshman player Karrington Krabel, another Edgar County native. “We’d had that goal forever. We made it come true.”
The competition was no less pitched in the final game, where the Lakers squared up against the Johnson County Cavaliers. According to Barry, they were
a formidable opponent.
“It was definitely one of the best teams we’ve faced overall, I think,” she remarked.
Lake Land started fast, Barry explained, then slowed toward the midpoint. The Cavaliers took the lead once before the Lakers regrouped and drove hard the rest of the game. The fight was especially brutal for Krabel, who tore four ACLs in last three minutes of the game. The final score was 53-49.
At the buzzer, the atmosphere on court was ecstatic. Krabel remembers being in tears, and she was not alone.
“I think coach was in tears. Everyone was in shock, so excited. It really just hit the heart,” she said. “The excitement was just crazy.”
Krabel had high praise for Barry, who she said played her best games throughout the tournament and went into overdrive during the championship. The officials noticed too, but Barry said MVP was the last thing on her mind in the moment. When her name was announced, Barry was stunned.
“So when they announced my name, it was kind of just a big surprise,” she said.
The rest of the team, Krabel included, was not shocked at all.
“I was so excited for it, she definitely deserved it. She worked harder than anyone during that national tournament,” Krabel said, adding, “I couldn’t agree more with the decision.”
The future looks bright for Barry – she is graduating from Lake Land College this semester with degree in elementary ed, and has a job lined up – but this experience will stay with her forever.
To her, the MVP award represents all the hard work not only to win the national championship, but to get there in the first place. Seeing those efforts acknowledged is something special.
“And at the championship? It’s an unreal feeling, honestly,” said Barry.