Laker girls unable to match Poland’s intensity, shooting

TOUGH TO STOP once again was Poland senior guard Nathalie Theriault, who scored 20 points in the Knights' win over the Lakers. Here, she shoots a baseline jumper over the out-stretched arms of Chandler True and Rachel Shanks (#11). (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

It nearly sounded like a Bill Belichick post-game press conference after a Patriots loss.

We weren’t good in any phase of the game.

Bad defense.

Bad offense.

No energy.

We just weren’t good enough, didn’t play well enough tonight to win.

That’s how Coach Paul True summed up Lake Region’s 52-36 defeat to Poland last Friday night at Nutting Gymnasium.

After losing a triple overtime, one-point loss to the Knights a couple of weeks ago, the Lakers were eager to even the score — and just as important, try to secure a high berth in the Class B West playoffs.

Yet, it was the Knights who caught fire late in the first half as Sarah Moody drilled a 3-pointer from top of the key with 1:23 left and senior guard Nathalie Theriault, who netted a game-high 20 points and collected nine rebounds, converted a pair of foul shots to put Poland up 26-19.

The Knights rode that wave of extreme confidence, aggressiveness and physicality into the third quarter, and delivered a knockout punch with a 17-7 run, leading to a season sweep of the Lakers, likely a first since Poland opened its own high school.

Other than the first five minutes of the game when they attacked the lane and built an 8-4 lead, Lake Region was unable to match Poland’s intensity or stymie the Knights’ hot shooting. The Lakers appeared fatigued from a physical outing the night before against Yarmouth, but Coach True refused to use the lack of zip as an excuse while acknowledging the Knights were the better team Friday night.

Coming off a 3-for-20 first quarter the night before against Yarmouth, the Lakers were still off the mark against the physical Knights. LR went 3-of-13 in the first quarter and 4-of-11 in the second. They had no player reach the double-digit scoring mark.

When the Knights took control of the game in the third, the Lakers were 2-of-14 (Michelle Bonenfant providing both hoops, a layup and a left-corner 3-ball) from the field, and went scoreless for nearly four minutes, finally breaking the drought as Shauna Hancock sank 1-of-2 foul shots.

Meanwhile, the Knights were an efficient 6-of-11 from the field, with Theriault scoring six points, and 4-of-5 from the foul line. Jessica Seeley, who sank the game-winning foul shot in the first meeting, put an exclamation point on the period, scoring at the buzzer. Seeley finished the night with 13 points.

Down 43-26 heading into the fourth, the Lakers continued to struggle offensively, failing to score until the 4:04 mark when Lauren Jakobs converted a layup, just her fifth point on the night. Hancock recorded the only other field goal, a 3-pointer. If there was a silver lining, LR was 5-of-6 at the foul line to close out the contest, something they will need to duplicate once the playoffs start.

Poland closed the game with a 7-for-10 effort at the foul line.

“Certainly, this was our worst outing of the season. Coming in, we had lost three games by a total of five points,” Coach True said. “It’s done, and we need to move on.”

Or as Coach Belichick famously said after a thrashing and questions rained down whether a quarterback change might be called for, “We’re on to…”

In Coach True and the Lakers’ case, “We’re on to Traip Academy.”

Stat Lines

Turnovers: LR 19, P 17

Free Throws: LR 12-19, P 16-23

Field Goals: LR 11-46, P 17-40

Rebounds: LR 28 (Jakobs 6, Aisley Sturk 6, Brooke Harriman 5, Melissa Bonenfant 4), P 25 (Theriault 9, Morgan Brousseau 9)

LR scorers: Brooke Harriman 8, Melissa Bonenfant 8, Chandler True 8, Shauna Hancock 7, Lauren Jakobs 5.

Poland scorers: Nathalie Theriault 20, Jessica Seeley 13, Alexandria Grondin 10, Sarah Moody 5, Sophia Vallee 2, Morgan Brousseau 2.

3-Pointers: LR Bonenfant, Hancock; P Alexandria Grondin, Moody.

BLOCK ATTEMPT by Lake Region's Melissa Bonenfant.

Gritty effort against Clippers

Free-throw shooting saved the Lakers last Thursday night.

Facing a gritty and stingy Yarmouth squad, the Lakers overcame an 0-for-9 shooting slump in the fourth quarter by making 9-of-12 foul shots to edge the Clippers 44-40.

Although the Clippers sports a losing record (5-6), LR Coach Paul True was worried about this match-up.

“They’ve played a lot of close games this year against the best teams in our league. We talked a lot about not taking them lightly. They have a couple of athletes that are game changers, and they played a very solid second half, for sure,” Coach True said.

He was right on.

After a 3-for-20 shooting start, the Lakers still managed to hold a 10-8 lead after a quarter. But, one quickly sensed this game would be both physical and low scoring.

LR opened some daylight midway through the second as Shauna Hancock connected on a 3-pointer and Brooke Harriman made a nifty pass in the lane to Lauren Jakobs for a layup for a 20-13 lead. Freshman Bella Russo swished a baseline jumper and Chandler True tossed in a free throw for a 23-15 halftime advantage.

But, the Clippers remained scrappy and battled back. Senior guard Sara D’Appolonia (18 points) sparked a rally with a 3-pointer followed up with a steal and layup. Two Clementine Blaschke foul shots and the lead was nearly gone, LR up 30-28.

LR, however, responded as Hancock sank a pair of foul shots and Jakobs connected on a straight-away 3-pointer to push the Laker lead back to seven, 35-28.

With the Lakers going scoreless over the first four minutes of the final quarter, Yarmouth pecked away at the deficit. D’Appolonia — who received a scholarship to play soccer at the University of Maryland, and was playing in her second to last high school basketball game, leaving Yarmouth early to start her collegiate career — made another big steal, score and a foul shot to cut the LR lead to two. Her layup with 4:47 left in regulation tied the game.

Because of their shaky outside shooting, the Lakers attacked the lane and it paid off. After Yarmouth’s Margaret McNeil knocked down a 3-pointer with 3:19 left to tie the game at 38-38, the Lakers closed out the game sinking 6-of-8 foul shot chances.

LR junior Brooke Harriman sliced through two Yarmouth defenders, was fouled and made both free throws to win the contest. Yarmouth attempted a deep shot from the right corner with 36.7 seconds left, but missed as LR freshman Bella Russo collected the long rebound. With 7.2 seconds, Chandler True sealed the win with a pair of foul shots.

“They (Yarmouth) played very physical all night, and we struggled with that a little bit. Shot selection was pretty good. I thought we did a decent job on the backboards. Some shots didn’t go in that normally do. With their physicality, it was a recipe to make the game close,” Coach True said. “Against pressure (LR had 14 turnovers), you need to pass to the outside shoulder and if you are being overplayed you need to make back cuts. We didn’t do either one of those consistently tonight. Despite not shooting all that well, we stayed in attack mode for the most part, and did a nice job just continuing to grind it out and compete. At some point, all of these closely contested games are going to pay a big dividend for us. They are good for us. We continue to compete. Hopefully, we use every game as a learning tool, which will pay off later.”

Stat Lines

Turnovers: LR 14, Y 15

Free Throws: LR 17-28, Y 7-14

Field Goals: LR 11-55, Y 15-44

Rebounds: LR 38 (Jakobs 8, Hancock 8, True 6), Y 29 (Blaschke 9)

LR scorers: Chandler True 14, Lauren Jakobs 9, Shauna Hancock 8, Brooke Harriman 5, Melissa Bonenfant 3, Rachel Shanks 3, Bella Russo 2.

Up next: At 9-4, the Lakers slipped to #6 (42.5309) in Class B West, yet still comfortably ahead of #7 Wells by some 20 tourney points (22.0988). Heading down the home stretch, Coach True wants to see his club playing its best ball and secure a higher berth — trying to catch Mountain Valley (10-3, 48.7654) in fourth and Oak Hill (9-4, 43.0247) in fifth.

LR has the chance to do so, having games with Freeport (the Falcons are third at 9-2 and 53.5802 tourney index) and Yarmouth.

The Lakers host St. Dom’s on Friday at 7 p.m., and then welcome Freeport on Friday, Feb. 2 at 7 p.m.

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