Laker girls turn table on Freeport; face Yarmouth in playoffs
By Wayne E. Rivet
When the Lakers lost to Freeport a few weeks ago by 13 points, Coach Paul True saw his team let physical play by the Falcons erode their confidence and willingness to attack.
The Lakers turned the tables on Freeport (11-7) last Friday night at Nutting Gym.
Senior Kristen Huntress made her last home appearance a memorable one, scoring a game-high 23 points, to lead the Lakers to a convincing 64-49 victory.
The win propelled the Lakers (12-6) to a Class B quarterfinal basketball tournament date Tuesday against fourth-ranked Yarmouth (12-6).
What were the biggest differences between the two meetings with the Falcons?
“Confidence and playing in familiar surroundings were the difference,” said LR Coach Paul True, whose club went 8-1 this season at the friendly confines of Nutting Gym. “Offensively, scoring 30 points in the first half and 34 in the second half, we played an even game. We just played with confidence.”
The Lakers “attacked” Freeport’s pressure defense, and were rewarded either with high percentage shots in the lane or trips to the foul line, where they certainly cashed in.
LR enjoyed a 29-6 advantage at the foul line, where they out scored the Falcons 22-3. Huntress was money each time she toed the charity stripe, sinking 9-of-10.
“We controlled the tempo and I thought we did a good job breaking their pressure, which took them out of how they wanted to play,” Coach True said. “We were in ‘attack mode’ tonight. We attacked them with the dribble and with ball movement, and that created foul opportunities, as well.”
Freeport picked up where they left off early in the game, taking a quick 7-0 lead as Taylor Rinaldi swished a 3-pointer from the right wing. The Lakers finally got on the scoreboard as Chandler True scored off a Falcon turnover with 4:18 left in the quarter.
Lauren Jakobs sparked a late rally by scoring 4 points and making an extra pass to Melissa Bonenfant in the lane for a bucket, closing the gap to 11-8. True coolly sank a mid-range jumpshot, and Bonenfant tied the game with a corner 3-pointer to end the quarter, 13-13.
Laker pressure caused nine Freeport miscues in the second quarter, resulting in a 17-9 LR run.
Chandler True connected on back-to-back 3-pointers midway through the period, a result of good, crisp Laker ball movement, which created open looks.
Up 23-20, the Lakers closed out the period strong, hitting 4-of-6 foul shots after making aggressive takes to the rim, and Bonenfant sinking another period-closing 3-pointer, as Jakobs found her alone in the corner.
Lakers up 30-22 at the half.
“I thought defensively we did a great job after adjusting to their offense, not allowing face cuts. They weren’t getting any easy baskets,” Coach True said. “We did a better job commanding the basketball and moving the ball. We knew if we did that, we were going to get a lot of open looks and we made some shots.”
Coach True cited the continued strong play of junior guards Melissa Bonenfant (10 points off the bench) and Aisley Sturk (6 rebounds, 4 points).
“Melissa is a good shooter, and she has the capability of doing that on any given night. Right now, her shot looks great,” Coach True said. “Aisley is just such a coachable kid who works her tail off. She does everything you ask her to do to the best of her ability. What else could I ask for? She took some shots tonight, attacking the rim, which is what I want to see. She does such a great job on the backboard that she has the opportunity to put some put-backs in.”
The halftime break hardly cooled the Lakers off. They shot well from the floor and at the foul line (8-of-10) as the lead swelled to 20 points.
Huntress had a big third quarter, scoring 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers over the final 1:38. She scored the team’s final 10 points of the period.
Freeport ratcheted up their pressure defense, which forced six Laker miscues. But, the Falcons barely put a dent in the deficit as the Lakers again took care of business from the foul line, going 8-of-10.
Across the board, the Lakers checked every box against the Falcons:
LR had a 26-23 edge on the glass.
LR had a whopping advantage at the foul line.
And, despite some fourth quarter giveaways, the Lakers won the turnover battle, by one (18 to Freeport’s 19).
For the Lakers, Chandler True finished with 17 points, Melody Millett 5 and Lauren Jakobs 5 points (7 rebounds).
Class B Quarterfinals: With the third time be the charm?
At 12-6, the Lakers finished in the fifth spot, and will take on fourth-ranked Yarmouth (12-6) on Tuesday, 1 p.m. at the Portland Expo.
Yarmouth closed the regular season with a 36-26 loss to second-ranked Wells. The Clippers are 3-2 over the last five games, and beat the Lakers twice 28-24 and 32-23.
The Lakers were 6-1 down the stretch, and defeated the Clippers in dramatic fashion at the Expo a year ago.
“I am excited about the matchup. It all comes down to the kids leaving it all out on the floor and playing with confidence. It’s plain and simple. There isn’t anybody we can’t beat on any given night, but they have to believe it,” Coach True said. “We have to recover quicker from adversity. There are going to be plays that don’t go our way, and if we do that, then I think we’ll be fine.”
This week, Coach True will be “tweaking” the Lakers’ offensive approach after the Clippers held them to 23.5 points per game in their meetings.
“Defensively, we’ve played them twice and held them to 28 and 32 points. If we do that, we have a chance to win,” Coach True said. “We’ll make some adjustments offensively, but it’s all about attack mode and playing with confidence.”