Laker boys miss chances to move up in Heals

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COMMITMENT TO BOYS' BASKETBALL PROGRAM — For their support and commitment to the Lake Region boys' basketball program, the Mayo family was presented with the Bill Shane Award Tuesday night. Pictured left to right are: Matthew, Douglass, Richard, Mark, Melissa and Amy Mayo, Bill Shane (holding the plaque) and John Mayo. (Rivet Photo)

 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

They certainly have had their chances to punch a ticket to the Portland Expo, rather than face a home “play-in” game.

Lake Region dropped two heartbreakers, seeing last second shots fall off the mark resulting in a 55–53 loss to Yarmouth last Friday, and a 61–58 defeat Tuesday to Poland.

Hope, however, remains.

If the Lakers can knock off York Friday, they might possibly squeak past Poland for the Number 6 spot, which presently would mean a trip to the Expo Saturday, Feb. 15 for an 11 a.m. game against #3 Spruce Mountain (15–2).

If the Lakers remain #7, they could host rival Fryeburg Academy Tuesday, Feb. 11. The Raiders presently occupy the final playoff spot. If LR loses at York Friday and dips to the Number 8 seed, then they would likely host Lincoln Academy (9–8).

So, final regular season games will carry plenty of importance.

The Lakers saw a chance to move up slip through their fingers Tuesday night, unable to recover from a 13-point deficit early in the fourth quarter.

Like last week’s game against Yarmouth, the Lakers refused to quit and actually put themselves in a position to either tie the game or win it in the final seconds.

Tuesday, LR nearly pulled off a miracle finish by scoring the game’s final six points in the last 52 seconds. A couple of steals, including a nifty pick-pocket by Jack Lesure, turned into a driving hoop by Sam Smith with 52 seconds left and a Smith soft floater in the lane with 20 seconds left. Forward Nick Hall’s hustle resulted in a pair of foul shots with 39.6 ticks left.

Poland, who was in the double bonus, could have sealed the win by getting the ball up the court, but tight defense by Marcus DeVoe forced an errant pass along the sideline, intended for Tyler Michaud, which sailed out of bounds with 16.5 seconds left.

The Lakers had plenty of time to search out an open three-point option. Senior Ben Chaine had one possible look, but with a defender headed his way, he zipped a pass to the right wing to fellow senior Mark Williams.

Williams had a spectacular “Senior Night,” scoring 17 points — many of the acrobatic nature. He had a good look at a trey, but the ball clanked off the rim with a few ticks left.

Lakers fall short.

Opportunity lost.

As expected, this one had a playoff feel to it. Players pushed the envelope all night, hustling after loose balls, zipping the ball up and down the floor, and they showed plenty of emotions on made and missed shots.

“This is some pace they are playing at,” one game official said.

It certainly proved entertaining to those who packed the gym.

The Knights built a 17–11 lead after one behind the outside shooting of Tyler Michaud (five points) and the inside play of Alan Young (five points).

LR countered with quick drives to the hoop by Williams (six points), who proved to be a matchup nightmare for the Poland backcourt. Once inside the lane, Williams showed great body control, able to find the tiniest of spaces between Young (6-foot-3) and Josh Gary (6-foot-4). Williams kept the Lakers close in the second, netting six straight points. Lesure found the range, knocking down three jumpers while DeVoe rattled in a three-pointer to close the gap to 32–29.

Poland pushed the lead to five at the half as CJ Martin coolly sank a baseline jumper with two seconds left.

After Sam Smith buried a three-pointer from the left corner to cut the lead to 38–34, the Lakers’ offense went stone cold, managing just a foul shot by Williams over a three-minute stretch.

Poland took advantage as Young connected on a pair of hook shots from the baseline, while Gary netted two buckets in the lane. Bill Bickford’s hustle off a missed foul shot resulted in a rebound and score to put the Knights up 50–38.

Like last Friday night, the Lakers stormed back to make it a nail-biter. Nick Hall’s blue-collar work in the paint was rewarded. He carved out space against the Knights’ front line and converted a zip pass from Ben Chaine for a score. He later hauled in a rebound and was fouled, sinking 1-of-2 attempts.

Sam Smith got red hot, draining two corner 3-pointers with 5:25 left to make it 53–49. LR failed to score over a three-minute span, resulting in the Knights again pushing their lead into double digits.

After Gary made two foul shots with 1:23 left, it appeared Poland had sewn up the victory, up 61–52.

But, the Lakers refused to go away quietly. Unfortunately, they ran out of time.

The Lakers will try to snap a two-game losing skid when they travel to York this Friday. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

Lakers (8-9): Marcus DeVoe 3, Nick Hall 8, Jack Lesure 12, Sam Smith 18, Mark Williams 17. Rebounds: Williams 14, Lesure 10.

Poland (9-8): William Bickford 4, Josh Gary 12, Zachary Lowe 2, Caleb Martin 8, Tyler Michaud 8, Shawn Murphy 6, Alan Young 21.

No good at the buzzer

With 2.8 seconds left and his team down two points, Coach JP Yorkey hoped to run a last second play that worked at Greely.

The play was a backdoor lob to Mark Williams.

Unfortunately, the Lakers were unable to get into the set correctly and guard Jack Lesure was left with a difficult fade-away jumper that fell short of the mark as Yarmouth escaped with a 55–53 victory.

“We were just looking to emphasize a particular read on a sideline out-of-bounds play — the same play that we used to score with a couple seconds left in the first half at Greely. Unfortunately, we had a misunderstanding and the guys lined up on opposite sides and it ended up being a broken play,” Coach Yorkey said. “Jack did the best he could with what he got. A good learning experience for us, though.”

A win over the Clippers (12–4) would have been a major coup for the Lakers in their attempt to move up in the Heals and avoid a prelim game.

But, costly turnovers put the Lakers behind the eight ball a few times, forcing them to battle back from double-digit deficits.

The Lakers enjoyed a 12–11 first quarter lead, but fell behind 31–23 at halftime.

With Yarmouth adding five points to their lead heading into the final quarter, the Lakers produced a frantic rally, allowing the Clippers to score just four points the rest of the way.

“I was very proud of our players. They played their hearts out. We held them to four points in the fourth quarter to give ourselves a chance to win. That is the lowest point total that they have had in a quarter this season,” Coach Yorkey said. “What was impressive was how our guys were able to close the gap late without having to foul. They made some huge defensive plays.”

Although turnovers were a problem at various junctures of the game, Coach Yorkey liked the way his team battled through the rough spots.

“We had a couple of moments in the second and third quarters where we didn’t execute as well as we would have liked to,” he said. “I thought our guys did a good job in their prep work, though. Yarmouth has buried a lot of teams this year and over the last few with their half-court trap. Sure, there are a few minutes we’d like to have back, but this is the best we’ve done with them in quite some time.”

The Lakers received big shots and big plays from Mark Williams (game-high 21 points) and Jack Lesure (17 points).

“Mark and Jack both found and attacked gaps in their zone, and finished strong. They both made huge plays at both ends of the floor,” Coach Yorkey said. “Marcus (DeVoe) has been great for us, again, at both ends of the floor. He’s been guarding top players, hits open shots, finishes great in transitions, and is starting to attack the basket off the dribble like we know he can.”

Coach Yorkey also had high praise for forward Nick Hall.

“I was super-impressed with Nick’s interior defense and rebounding. I felt that he was dominant at times. (Nathaniel) Shields-Aube is one of the strongest post players in our league, if not the strongest. I was very concerned about us being able defend him in the post and keep him off the offensive glass. Nick was able to do it, and didn’t need much help,” Coach Yorkey said. “He played very hard, very physical, and will great confidence. Just a terrific defensive performance.” Shields-Aube scored 10 points, while guard David Murphy netted 17 and Adam LaBrie 13.

With time running out on the regular season, Coach Yorkey knows he club can make some noise in the playoffs if they play at their best.

“We are looking to capture the effort, energy and focus that we had in the fourth period of the Yarmouth game, and play defense that way in every quarter of every game the rest of the way,” he said.

Lake Region: Marcus DeVoe 4, Nick Hall 5, Jack Lesure 17, Sam Smith 6, Mark Williams 21.

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