Laker boys sprint past Poland, 82-61

Jack Lesure's one-handed shot goes for 2 points. (Rivet Photos)

Jack Lesure's one-handed shot goes for 2 points. (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

They are starting to figure it out, which could be real trouble for their opponents.

Lake Region turned Monday’s basketball game against Poland into an all out sprint for 32 minutes, resulting in 67 shots attempts and forcing 26 Knight turnovers.

The end result: 82 points on the board.

Despite some impressive long-range shooting by guard Nathanial Chouinard, who connected on six 3-pointers en route to a 20-point night, Poland lacked the firepower to match the Lakers’ high-octane attack, falling 82-61.

Nate Smith had the hot hand early, getting the Lakers off to a quick start by scoring 11 of his game-high 24 points in the first quarter.

Teammate Jack Lesure continued to be a vacuum in the paint, ripping off 15 rebounds to go with 15 points as the Lakers posted their sixth straight win to improve to 10-2.

“I thought we moved the ball well. They are really starting to trust each other and are willing to pass the ball ahead to the open player who ever it is. We have some very talented guys who can both go to the rim as well shoot the three. They are understanding when it is time to take it to the rim and when to shoot the outside shot,” Laker Coach John Mayo said. “I thought the guys off the bench played very well tonight especially in the second quarter. Tyler (Walker), Damon (Knight), Ryan (Hodgdon) and Alex (Langadas) kept the pressure on and even extend the lead tonight. Marcus (DeVoe) and Brandon (Palmer) did a great job with pressure up front in the first quarter and Nick (Wandishin) controlled the paint early on.”

To create fastbreak chances, a team must control the defensive glass. The Lakers dominated the boards, 43 to 23, with Lesure and Wandishin (seven rebounds) taking control.

With Smith draining four pull-up jumpers and DeVoe aggressively driving to the rim for six points, the Lakers built a 23-12 lead after one.

Poland struggled mightily against the Lakers’ full-court trap, turning the ball over 11 times.

“In the full court, I thought everyone understood their rotations and they are doing well at getting a trap and not fouling in the trap, but allowing the other guys to make the steals as they throw the ball out of trap,” Coach Mayo explained.

Marcus DeVoe goes strong to the rim.

Marcus DeVoe goes strong to the rim.

The LR lead swelled to 17 in the second as Ryan Hodgdon scored on an offensive rebound and Damon Knight knocked down a baseline jumper and two foul shots.

LR answered a mini Poland run midway through the second quarter with eight straight points, including a nifty spin move by guard Tyler Walker, who freed himself up for an easy bank shot in the paint to increase the lead to 19.

But, Poland closed a 5-for-21 shooting quarter on a positive note as Patrick Kuklinski swished a three-pointer at the buzzer to make it 41-25.

Although Chouinard drilled a pair of three-pointers for the Knights in the third quarter, those bombs were negated by Smith, who dropped consecutive treys to open the frame. LR showed good offensive balance in the third as six different players scored.

The Lakers seemed to have the game in hand with 5:05 left when Lesure made a spectacular save of a loose ball. He dove near the Poland bench and flicked the ball behind his back to a teammate, who then fired a perfect pass to Smith, who scored, was fouled and sank the free throw.

Up 72-50, Coach Mayo went to his bench to close out the game.

But, Poland made some noise as Greg Leighton and Chouinard each buried three-pointers and four straight turnovers by the Lakers helped fuel a 10-2 Knight run.

With 3:53 remaining, Coach Mayo returned his starting five and order was restored. Palmer sank a pair of foul shots. DeVoe drove past two defenders for a hoop. Wandishin sank a nifty one-hander in the lane. And Alex Langadas coolly went 4-for-4 from the line as the Lakers closed the game on a 6-1 spurt.

“Some of their three-point shots were in transition and we did not recognize that there was a shooter in our area, even if it was not our man. Some of it was, we did not close out enough on them, which gave them space to shoot. It is something we need to do a better job at,” Coach Mayo said. “These guys never seem to panic in the fourth quarter and at the end of the game. They recognize the situation and focus on what needs to be done. That is how they came back against Falmouth (down 16 on the road in the final quarter) and were able to settle the game down at the end tonight.”

While the team is playing a dominating style, the two main sparks that have this engine revved up have been Jack Lesure and Nate Smith.

“Jack has a sense to always be around the ball. With so many good shooters around him, he is able to play inside more, which puts him closer to the basket for the rebounds,” Coach Mayo said. “He is getting into the paint more this year with off cuts and drives, and he finishes well in that area.”

As for Smith, the coach said, “Nate has always been a good shooter when left open. We have worked with everyone on going to the basket and finishing strong. He has found he can get to into the lane and hit that mid-range jumper. The credit for much of the success Jack and Nate are having comes from their teammates getting them the ball when they are open. When Marcus, Brandon or Tyler drive to the basket, Nate and Jack’s defenders have to help which leaves them open. All our guys are offensive threats on the floor, the last couple of games Nate and Jack have caught fire, but the rest of the guys are putting in strong performances as well.”

Which makes this Lake Region team more and more dangerous as the postseason nears.

LR scorers: DeVoe 11, Palmer 8, Wandishin 8, Knight 6, Langadas 6, Hodgdon 2, Walker 2.

Poland top scorers: John Fossett 12 points and 9 rebounds; Caleb Hodgkin 10 points, Kuklinski 7, Leighton 6, Quinn Callahan 6.

Turnovers: LR 19, POL 26

Field Goals: LR 33-67 (49%), POL 24-61 (39%)

Free Throws: LR 13-18, POL 5-7

Rebounds: LR 43, POL 23

LR rebounders: Lesure 15, Wandishin 7, Smith 5, Langadas 4, Hodgdon 3, DeVoe 3, Knight 3, Palmer 3.

  • At Wells last week, the Lakers jumped out to a 18-5 lead and clobbered the Warriors 66-43 behind 19 points from Nate Smith and 18 points from Jack Lesure.

Alex Langadas chipped in 9 points, Tyler Walker 7, Marcus DeVoe 7, Brandon Palmer 2, Ryan Hodgdon 2 and Douglas Mayo had 2 points.

Up next: Winners of six straight, the Lakers host Waynflete tonight, Jan. 21, at 7 p.m., visit Sacopee Valley in South Hiram on Saturday at 6 p.m. and head to Kennebunk on Tuesday for a 6:30 p.m. game.



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