Laker center dominates fourth quarter to help team to victory

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — Tiana-Jo Carter gave a glimpse Saturday night that she can be a game changing force on the basketball court.

After sitting out most of the third quarter with foul trouble, the Lake Region freshman dominated the first five minutes of the fourth, scoring nine of her 11 points to lead the Lakers to a 50-33 victory over Fryeburg Academy at Wadsworth Arena.

The 6-foot center connected on a nifty turn-around jump shot, blocked two shots and re-energized the Laker defense during a deciding 14-7 run.

“Tiana makes a big difference,” Lake Region Coach Paul True said. “She turned this game around for us.”

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Lake Region 50

Hannah Cutting 2-1-5, Abby Craffey 2-4-8, Sydney Hancock 2-1-7, Savannah Devoe 1-1-3, Rachel Wandishin 2-4-8, Kasey Huntress 1-0-2, Tiana-Jo Carter 4-3-11, Allison Clark 1-3-5, Shannon VanLoan 0-1-1, Jordan Turner, Kate Cutting. 3-Pointers: Hancock (2). FT: 18-33. Turnovers: 18. Rebounds: Clark 3, Carter 8, H. Cutting 6, Craffey 2, Devoe 1, Huntress 1, Van Loan 2, Wandishin 1. Blocks: Carter 4.

Fryeburg Academy 33

Kendra Fox 3-0-6, Maggie McConkey 3-8-14, Maddy Smith 1-0-2, Sarah Welch 0-1-1, Skye Dole 3-0-6, Katie Heggie 1-2-4, Bailey Frost, Ellen Bacchiocchi, Brenna Gerchman. FT: 11-16. Turnovers: 33. Rebounds: McConkey 4, Fox 4, Frost 2, Gerchman 3, Dole 6, Heggie 5, Welch 1, Bacchiocchi 3, Smith 1.

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The Lakers won their ninth straight game, but despite the final score, it wasn’t easy. Fryeburg erased a double-digit lead, and scratched back to just 7 points down with 2:24 left in the third quarter. But, Carter gave the Lakers a needed boost over the final eight minutes.

LR Coach True was pleased with the victory, but he was quick to point to areas his club needs to improve upon with a big showdown looming Friday night against third-ranked Greely (9-2).

“I was disappointed, at times, because we had some let ups defensively, and at times we made some poor decisions with the basketball,” Coach True said.

DENYING THE INBOUNDS PASS — Lake Region guard Sydney Hancock tries to prevent an inbounds pass to Fryeburg Academy’s Maggie McConkey during Saturday’s basketball game at Wadsworth Arena. The Lakers built an early big lead, and held off a third quarter Raider charge. (Rivet Photo)

“I think we slowed down and didn’t anticipate very well. Of course the other piece to that is when we ran in transition, we didn’t finish with lay-ups, again poor decisions.”

Coach True expected a grind-it-out game from the Raiders.

“It was very difficult in this game to get into a flow or rhythm,” Coach True said. “Fryeburg always plays tough. For the most part, we answered. At times, we backed away from the physicality of the game.”

Lake Region continues to get strong play from its reserves.

“Kasey (Huntress) and Rachel (Wandishin) continue to do a great job coming off the bench. They bring great energy and are tenacious on defense. It’s been a great lift for us. We need all five players meeting and playing with that same intensity,” Coach True said. “We need to be more consistent staying in a stance, particularly on offense, which won’t allow people to get pushed around as much. Inside, we stand up too much. Offensively, we did a poor job against their half-court trap and we weren’t making good decisions. Those are two huge lessons we learned tonight.”

Coach True added, “We had a lot of opportunities to attack the inside, and did a pretty good job. Now, we need to continue to work on making some free throws. I was pleased how we took the ball to the basket in the fourth quarter to earn a chance to shoot free throws.”

Despite a 14-point halftime deficit, Fryeburg Academy Coach Dan Leland liked the way his players continued to “hang in there.”

“Our goal at halftime was to try to get it to single digits by the third quarter and make it a game from there. We did use a lot of energy,” Coach Leland said. “When Tiana was out of the game, we were able to just leave one of our bigs (Skye Dole and Katie Heggie) out there, which enabled us to keep them fresh. Tiana makes a big difference when she is out there.”

Coach Leland believes the Raiders’ comeback win over Falmouth helped in their rally against the Lakers.

“When we came back from 10 at Falmouth with their starters still in the game, it gave us confidence that we could do it again (tonight),” Coach Leland said.

Lake Region (9-1) started quick, building a 17-6 first quarter lead by pounding the ball inside with their quick transition offense. Guard Sydney Hancock drained a 3-pointer to make it 9-0 with half the quarter gone. Fryeburg finally broke the ice as Kendra Fox sank a jumper from the left side with 3:16 left.

DRIVE TO THE HOOP — FA guard Maggie McConkey (#10) scored a game-high 14 points against the Lakers. McConkey drives past Laker defenders Sydney Hancock (top) and Rachel Wandishin (right). (Rivet Photo)

With forward Kelsey Winslow still out due to a high ankle sprain, sophomore Savannah Devoe made the most of her minutes by scoring off an offensive rebound and later sinking 1-of-2 foul shots as the Lakers closed out the quarter on a 6-2 run, as Rachel Wandishin scored a fastbreak lay-up and added a foul shot.

The Lakers’ quickness continued to be a major problem for the Raiders as FA turned the ball over 10 times and managed just one field goal — a Maddy Smith jumper with 2:21 left in the half. Abby Craffey scored 5 points for the Lakers, who led 25-11 at intermission.

The game, however, would take on a different complexion in the third quarter. Carter was whistled for her third foul with 5:40 to go, forcing her to the LR bench.

With the Laker shot blocker out of action, Fryeburg went to its twin towers — Skye Dole and Katie Heggie. Getting second shot chances, the Raiders climbed within 7 points as Dole scored 6 and Fox 4. The Lakers went nearly six minutes without scoring a field goal while turning the ball over seven times in the quarter. LR managed to avoid a total collapse by going 6-of-8 from the foul line. A Wandishin steal and basket pushed the Laker lead back to 13, but Fryeburg trimmed it to 36-26 as McConkey and Heggie sank foul shots in the closing seconds.

“Most teams know Maggie does so much for us. We’ve been trying to develop another guard, and Brenna (Gerchman) is coming along,” Coach Leland said. “Turnovers were a big problem. If we were to eliminate half of them, it’s a different ballgame. You can’t beat anyone if you commit 33 turnovers. We need others to help with the ball handling.”

One formula that seems to be working for the Raiders is a frequent substitution pattern.

“With this group, we need to keep them focused. That’s why I have been subbing more frequently. If I wait for four minutes, it takes them a couple of minutes to get going. Rapid fire substitution seems to work better for us,” Coach Leland said. “It keeps everyone fresh, as well.”

Last week

Raiders rally at Falmouth. Skye Dole and Maggie McConkey connected on 3-point shots late in the game as the Raiders rallied with a 10-point surge in the fourth quarter to beat the Yachtsmen at Falmouth last week.

Falmouth enjoyed leads of 14-10, 27-19 and 35-27 before the big fourth quarter comeback. For the Raiders, Maggie McConkey was the game’s high scorer with 14 points. Skye Dole added 13, Katie Heggie 8, Kendra Fox 5, Bailey Frost 4 and Brenna Gerchman had 2 points.

“We regrouped against their 1-3-1 halfcourt trap, and started to get some easy baskets at the end of the first half. When we came out and scored the first six points of the second half, the kids started to believe,” Coach Leland said.

When Dole made a trey, the momentum started to shift.

“Skye is a pretty good shooter, but that was her first 3-pointer of the year. The girl stepped away from her, and I told her to shoot it. I think she had made up her mind that she was going to shoot it, and she buried it,” Coach Leland said. “That was a big shot.”

Another key to victory was the leadership provided by junior guard Maggie McConkey.

“With the game on the line, Maggie demanded the ball every possession, knowing that there could be foul shots involved,” Coach Leland said. “She made some key foul shots and had a huge steal despite having four fouls. She made some big plays when it counted most.”

The victory could be a springboard for the Raiders down the stretch.

“It was a huge win for us. It allows us to control our own destiny again. We play them again this Saturday, and if we can win, it could go a long way toward deciding who gets into the playoffs. I think it is going to take nine wins to get in, and we have two in front of us (Wells and Falmouth) that we need to take care of,” Coach Leland said,

Lakers hammer Clips. Unlike some games this year when it has taken the offense a quarter or two to get warmed up, the Lakers wasted little time taking command at Yarmouth last week.

Tiana-Jo Carter fired in a game-high 15 points and Sydney Hancock added 12 points as the Lakers rolled to a 58-27 win over the Clippers. LR built first half leads of 18-6 and 36-10. The Clippers reached double digits for eight minutes in the fourth, out scoring the Lakers 11-8.

Every Laker scored: Kasey Huntress 7, Abby Craffey 6, Rachel Turner 5, Allison Clark 4, Rachel Wandishin 3, Savannah Devoe 2, Hannah Cutting 2 and Shannon Van Loan 2. 3-Pointers: Clark, Hancock, Huntress, Turner.

Up next

Lake Region has a showdown game this Friday night when they host third-ranked Greely (9-2) at 7 p.m. This one offers the Lakers a chance to pick up valuable tourney points (the Lakers sit in fifth in the Heal Ratings released this week, but just a point behind Oak Hill which has played one more game, and just four back of Greely), and see how they stack up against one of the top teams in the West. LR travels to Cape Elizabeth on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game, and then hosts Poland on Tuesday (7 p.m.) and Freeport on Thursday, Jan. 27 (6:30 p.m.).

Fryeburg Academy travels to Wells tonight, Jan. 20 for a 6:30 p.m. game against the Warriors. FA then hosts Falmouth Saturday at 7 p.m. and Gray-NG on Tuesday at 6 p.m. (JV at 4:30). A sweep here would move the Raiders up into striking range of the playoffs (this year’s tournament takes the Top 9).

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