Despite offshooting night, Lakers blow past Clippers

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

DETERMINED — Lake Region junior guard Sydney Hancock looks to pass Yarmouth defender Lane Simsarian during Tuesday night’s Class B quarterfinal playoff game at the Portland Expo. The top-ranked Lakers (17-2) advanced to the semis this afternoon, Thursday, 4:30 p.m. at the Cumberland County Civic Center against fourth-ranked and defending state champion Leavitt (17-2). (Photos by Greg Van Vliet/Lake Region Photography)

PORTLAND — On a night when they struggled mightily to put the ball in the basket, Lake Region turned to their strength — a stifling, pressure defense that forced 29 turnovers — to bail them out.

LR Coach Paul True had to be pleased to see his club hoist 82 shots in Tuesday’s Class B quarterfinal girls’ basketball game against Yarmouth, but he had to cringe to see that his team made just 23, finishing the night with a 28% grade from the field.

But, the Lakers steamrolled the Clippers, 60-34 to advance to the semi-finals today, Feb. 23, against defending state champ, Leavitt (17-2). The Hornets advanced with a 72-59 win over Spruce Mountain (Jay/Livermore Falls).

“I was very pleased with the shots we were getting. I thought we rushed them at times. We just didn’t convert easy basket opportunities. If we are getting 70 to 80 shots in a game, things are going well for us offensively,” Coach True said. “I thought our execution was better than it has been over the past two games. We squandered some easy chances, but made some great decisions in transition. Early on, it simply didn’t end in scoring. Our effort was great.”

The top-ranked Lakers (17-2) received a dominant effort from sophomore center Tiana-Jo Carter, who returned from a late-season knee injury, to score 14 points and haul down 20 rebounds. She also blocked five shots.

“Tiana played great. She is a difference maker on the defensive end,” Coach True said. “Offensively, she struggled a little bit putting the ball into the hole, but I thought her decision-making and moves she was making around the basket were pretty good. I think Morgan Cahill (Yarmouth’s center) was responsible for some of those missed shots because she was able to move ‘T’ off her spots.”

Maybe it was nerves or they were simply unable to slow the speed of the game down when it came to shooting the ball, which resulted in the Lakers tied with eighth-seeded Yarmouth 6-6 after the first eight minutes. LR had plenty of chances, but made just 3-of-17 shots — two lay-ups in the first two minutes were the result of precision passes by Sydney Hancock and Rachel Wandishin. LR then went ice cold, failing to score for three minutes until reserve Jordan Turner drained a jumper from the left wing. Yarmouth tied the game with two hoops as the Lakers went scoreless over the final 1:58.

Although the offense sputtered in the second quarter (8-of-26), the Lakers opened some daylight as senior Allison Clark, who returned to action following a knee injury, came off the bench to swish a 3-pointer, which seemed to jumpstart her fellow shooters.

“Huge contributions. Her first ‘3’ was huge for us because it got our run going in the second quarter. It was really nice to have her back,” Coach True said.

Carter propelled the Lakers to a 25-10 halftime lead by dominating the lane at both ends of the court. She had 10 rebounds during this stretch, and scored the team’s last six points, including a 3-point play that resulted in Yarmouth’s big center, Morgan Cahill (14 points, 9 rebounds) to pick up her third foul. The LR defense forced 11 Yarmouth turnovers during this run, and held the Clippers to just 2-of-8 shooting. The Clips didn’t help their cause by going 0-for-6 from the foul line.

There was no loss of rhythm or intensity following the intermission as the Lakers kept their foot on the pedal. Sydney Hancock delivered two pretty bounce passes for lay-ups by Kelsey Winslow and Abby Craffy to push the lead to 19. Then, freshman Sarah Hancock stole the limelight. The rookie drained two 3-pointers and swished a pull-up jumper just inside the foul line for a 39-14 Laker lead.

“Sarah has played really well down the stretch. She has played a lot of basketball. Sarah is just a freshman, but she is seasoned in many ways. She played great for us tonight, and gave us a big lift,” Coach True said.

Clark swished another 3-pointer in the closing minutes, and the Lakers had this one under control. LR players had a chance to work on their free-throw shooting over the final quarter, sinking 5-of-8 — 9-of-15 for the game. The big lead also allowed Coach True to let reserves enjoy some of the tourney limelight as they played the final 3:30. Kate Cutting made the most of her time, connecting on a 3-pointer from the corner, and knocking down another long jumper to close out the Lakers’ scoring.

While the victory wasn’t pretty, Coach True liked his team’s intensity and determination. But, he knows for the Lakers to punch a ticket to Saturday’s Regional Final, the overall play has to be better against a talented Leavitt team.

“Certainly, we need to put the ball in the hole better than we did tonight,” Coach True said.

23-of-82 may not be good enough next time.

Stat Line: Carter had 20 of the Lakers’ 37 rebounds. Other leaders were Winslow (6) and Sydney Hancock (5). Yarmouth was 9-of-24 from the foul line, 12-of-37 from the field (32%).

Please follow and like us: