Knights push Laker girls to the limit on opening night

LAKERS 49

Tiana-Jo Carter 5-2-12, Kate Cutting 1-2-4, Savannah Devoe 2-3-7, Kayleigh Lepage 2-0-5, Sarah Hancock 2-0-5, CeCe Hancock 1-3-6, Kelsey Winslow 1-8-10, Miranda Chadbourne, Lucy Fowler, Spencer True. Totals: 14-18-49. 3-pointers: Lepage, S. Hancock, C. Hancock. FT 18-40. Turnovers: 23.

POLAND 38

Michaella Arsenault 5-4-16, Emily Bolduc 3-3-10, Hope Kohtala 1-0-3, Melora Lavoie 1-0-2, Brittina Maheux 1-0-3, Kayla Yirrell 2-0-4, Amanda Gibson, Aliyah Gregory, Renee Reid, Lindsay Theriault. Totals: 13-7-38. 3-pointers: Arsenault 2, Bolduc, Kohtala, Maheux. FT 7-14. Turnovers: 19.

 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

POLAND — Tiana-Jo Carter had enough.

She was tired of being pushed from behind and not getting the benefit of a foul call.

She was frustrated that her short jump shot was off the mark most of the night, seemingly rattling every part of the rim for three quarters.

She showed something one rarely sees from the 6-foot-2 junior center, who will offer an opponent a helping hand when knocked to the floor — an angry streak.

It was a good thing Tiana got mad.

After trailing Poland for three quarters on opening night, the all-conference center took control of the game, scoring 6 points, collecting 6 rebounds and blocking 3 shots as the Lakers rallied for a 49-38 victory. Carter finished with 12 points, 10 blocked shots and 22 rebounds.

“Our girls showed tremendous resiliency on a night where some of our players had to take on additional duties that they were not necessarily ready to perform,” Laker Coach Paul True said. “Our senior leadership ultimately came through for us.”

The Knights seemed primed to upset the defending Class B West champs — something the school has never done in its 13-year existence.

Poland shot the ball extremely well in the first half as Michaella Arsenault (16 points) and Hope Kohtala each connected for 3-pointers in the closing minute to give the Knights a 10-8 lead.

“We expected a physical game, and that’s what we got,” Coach True said. “They (Poland) came out pretty loose and shot the ball very well in the first half.”

With all-conference guard Sydney Hancock out due to a hamstring injury, Lake Region struggled mightily, turning the ball over nine times in eight minutes. The Knights doubled and triple teamed Carter in the low post, holding her to just 2 points. Carter picked up two quick fouls and was forced to the bench. It was a whistle fest as officials called 14 fouls over the first eight minutes.

Poland junior guard Emily Bolduc took over in the second quarter, draining a 3-pointer and scoring 9 points to lead the Knights to a surprising 28-20 halftime lead.

The Lakers managed to stay in striking range because of solid play from senior forward Savannah Devoe, who had 5 points and 5 rebounds (9 rebounds for the game), and sophomore guard Sarah Hancock, who knocked down a 3-pointer to make it a 17-14 deficit and hauled down 4 rebounds.

Freshman CeCe Hancock also swished a 3-pointer with 3:41 left in the half to close the gap to 21-20, but the Knights finished the half with a 7-0 run as Melora Lavoie scored on an offensive rebound, Brittina Maheux netted a 3-pointer from the corner and Bolduc converted two foul shots.

“Even though we were down, I didn’t sense any panic, nervousness or shock. I think our kids were more disappointed in how we played in the first half,” Coach True said. “We knew we had to pick it up in the second half, and they did.”

What else could go wrong for the Lakers?

Coach True had to do some serious backcourt juggling when starter Sarah Hancock collapsed near the LR bench just after the team returned from the halftime break. The sophomore suffered from an anxiety attack, as well as another ailment.

With reserve CeCe Hancock saddled with four fouls, True revamped his line-up, and received quality minutes from seniors Kayleigh Lepage and Kate Cutting.

Carter sparked the comeback with six points and Cutting drained a jumper with 1:18 left in the third as the Lakers tied the game 30-30.

Poland responded with hoops by Kayla Yirrell and Arsenault (a trey) over the final minute to regain the lead, 35-30.

After a quiet three quarters (no points), LR senior forward Kelsey Winslow finally rediscovered her shooting touch. Winslow scored all 10 of her points in the final quarter, including eight from the foul stripe, to lead the Lakers to the comeback victory.

Carter tied the game at 37-37 by sinking one of two foul shots with 4:17 left. Devoe then sparked a 12-1 run by delivering a perfect pass to Winslow for a lay-up. Lepage connected on a jumper from the right wing for a 4-point lead, and momentum had clearly shifted. After a Poland air ball, Knight Coach Darren Littlefield called time out.

It didn’t help.

Poland remained ice cold from the outside, while the Lakers shook off early poor free throw shooting to convert 8-of-12 in the final 2 minutes to ice the victory.

“In that fourth quarter, we played like we’ve been in big games before. We got some big plays from Kayleigh and Savannah. They both played extremely well in a tough situation. Several kids got some valuable varsity experience in this game, which should give them more confidence as the season goes along.”

Up next: The Lakers host Waynflete tonight, Thursday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. and Freeport on Saturday, Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. The Lakers travel to Gray-New Gloucester on Tuesday, Dec. 18 for a 5:30 p.m. game.

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