Lakers deny Greely in semis, 42-27

BLOCKED — Greely senior Jaclyn Storey has her shot blocked by Lake Region center Tiana-Jo Carter during Thursday's Class B West semifinal at the Cumberland County Civic Center. (Rivet Photo)

BLOCKED — Greely senior Jaclyn Storey has her shot blocked by Lake Region center Tiana-Jo Carter during Thursday's Class B West semifinal at the Cumberland County Civic Center. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Even though the score was tight for three quarters, Sydney Hancock kept the faith.

She truly believed if Lake Region continued to pressure Greely all over the court for the full 32 minutes of last Thursday’s Class B West semi-finals girls’ basketball playoff game, eventually the Rangers would crack

“We know we’re going to play a full 32 minutes. We’ll be playing hard to the end and we believe we’re the ones that will come out on top,” the Lake Region senior guard said. “In the first half, things were a little crazy. In the second half, we regrouped and figured out what we wanted to do on offense. It took us a while to figure it out, but we finally got there.”

Hancock angled off Greely’s tall front line for a lay-up and connected on a foul shot as part of a 15-6 fourth quarter run as the Lakers dumped the fifth-seeded Rangers 42-27 at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

On a sluggish offensive night, Lake Region’s in-your-face defense kept them close early and allowed Coach True’s crew to blow out the Rangers in the end.

“I was just waiting for that minute to minute and a half where if we could get it (the lead) past six we would be fine,” LR Coach Paul True said. “I told the kids that our goal was to score 50. If we did, we weren’t going to lose tonight. Holding a team to 27 in the semi-finals is a great feat.”

That two-minute spurt didn’t happen until the fourth quarter.

“We made them handle our pressure for 32 minutes tonight, and eventually it took its course,” Coach True added. “They really didn’t do anything differently than the last time we saw them.”

Like the last meeting, the game was a defensive grind early. Neither team shot well as the Lakers went 2-for-11 and the Rangers 3-for-11 for a 6-6 score.

LOOKING FOR SOME HELP — Lake Region senior guard Sydney Hancock looks for some help after coming up with a loose ball. She is surrounded by Greely players Sarah Felkel (left) and Jaclyn Storey. (Rivet Photo)

LOOKING FOR SOME HELP — Lake Region senior guard Sydney Hancock looks for some help after coming up with a loose ball. She is surrounded by Greely players Sarah Felkel (left) and Jaclyn Storey. (Rivet Photo)

Shooting improved over the next eight minutes as the Lakers attacked the inside with center Tiana-Jo Carter and guard CeCe Hancock each scoring 4 points to give the Lakers a 14-10 lead. Turnovers plagued both clubs (LR 6, Greely 7), resulting in a very low scoring half — Lakers 16, Greely 12 at the break.

A halftime adjustment helped the Lakers open up some breathing room in the second half.

“We spent a lot of time talking about how their bigs — Ashley Storey (6-2) and Jaclyn Storey (5-10) — do a good job of stepping up, but they are not going to be aggressive and they are not going to foul,” Coach True said. “We felt like in the second half that we would keep Kelsey (Winslow) closer to the basket, because they were double teaming Tiana. So, we brought Tiana high post, our guards penetrated and found Kelsey for some easy baskets.”

Winslow scored a pair of buckets in the third quarter and sophomore Sarah Hancock connected on a 3-pointer off a kick-out pass from Carter, who was double teamed, to put the Lakers up 23-17.

The Lakers consistently attacked the inside in the fourth, and it paid off. Winslow started the deciding run with a hoop of a strong drive and dish by Sydney Hancock. Freshman CeCe Hancock picked a Greely guard’s pocket and raced the other way for a lay-up to push the lead to 29-23.

“CeCe is a handful to guard,” Coach True said. “When she is focused and makes great decisions with the basketball, she is tough to guard.”

Sydney Hancock then converted on an off-balanced shot in the lane and later sank two foul shots to give the Lakers their first double-digit lead with 2:59 left.

“I just try to focus on my target and not on the girl coming at me 100 mph trying to pummel me to the ground. I just try to finish and make the foul shots,” she said.

The Rangers (14-6) shot just 7-of-22 from the field in the second half, and couldn’t match Lake Region’s firepower down the stretch. Greely had just three players score — Margaret Hatch 10 points, Ashley Storey 9 and Jaclyn Storey 8.

For the Lakers (18-2), CeCe Hancock and Kelsey Winslow each finished with 11 points, Sydney Hancock 9, Tiana-Jo Carter 8 and Sarah Hancock 3.

TIGHT COVERAGE — Lake Region's Miranda Chadbourne (right) tightens her defensive pressure against Greely guard Sarah Felkel. (Rivet Photo)

TIGHT COVERAGE — Lake Region's Miranda Chadbourne (right) tightens her defensive pressure against Greely guard Sarah Felkel. (Rivet Photo)

Defensively, the Lakers were aggressive, yet managed to keep the Rangers off the charity stripe. Greely did not attempt a foul shot in the first half, and were just 1-of-2 in the second half. LR was 6-for-11 for the game.

Another difference maker was the comfort level the Lakers played at. Despite the closeness of the game through three quarters, Sydney Hancock felt no sense of worry amongst her teammates.

“Experience is huge. It can be intimidating playing out here if you haven’t before. You need to stay calm and know that at the end of the game people are going to be flying out at you and when you need to go by them or pass. The biggest key is to stay poised,” she said. “We know what they like to do. They know what we like to do. In the end, it comes down to execution. We can’t focus on what other teams are doing. If we play our game, that should be enough.”

Team defense, offensive balance and 32 minutes of grit were enough to punch the Lakers’ ticket for a trip to the West Finals.

Game Stats

Turnovers: LR 14, GRE 19

FT: LR 6-11, GRE 1-2

FG: LR 16-37, GRE 13-39

Top rebounders: LR (25), Carter 10, Sarah Hancock 5; GRE (18), Ashley Storey 5, Jaclyn Storey 4.

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