Lakers dominate Capers in paint

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

KEEPING THE PRESSURE ON — Lake Region forward Kelsey Winslow looks to take away the passing lane from Cape Elizabeth’s Kayla Raftice during last week’s game at Nutting Gym. The Lakers hurried out to a 10-0 lead and never looked back, burying the Capers 50-18 to improve to 6-0. (Rivet Photo)

They’re slowly but surely figuring out their true identity.

In their first five games, Lake Region played fast in the opening quarters, but that approach didn’t translate into quick starts on the scoreboard.

Poor passing decisions resulting in unforced turnovers and a penchant to shoot 3-pointers first rather than search out a higher percentage shot from inside the paint resulted in tight contests early on.

“One of our points of emphasis is to be really sharp at the start of the game, unlike some games which we’ve come out a little sluggish,” LR varsity girls’ basketball Coach Paul True said.

To be “sharp” in the Laker scheme means unrelenting defensive pressure and seeking out high percentage shots with good ball movement.

The Lakers achieved both last Saturday, crushing Cape Elizabeth 50-18 to improve to 6-0. The Capers fell to 2-3.

The blueprint for success was followed to a “T” — sophomore center Tiana-Jo Carter dominated inside by scoring 8 of the team’s 18 points while hauling down six rebounds and the Lakers jumped out to a 10-0 lead by “attacking” the rim.

With 15 points scored inside the paint, the Lakers capped off a sharp first quarter with Abby Craffey draining a wide-open 3-pointer with 18.4 seconds to put the Lakers up 18-6.

Because of the Lakers’ success inside (LR had a 17-9 rebounding advantage in the first half), Cape defenders dropped off into the paint. The outside shooting game then opened up, giving LR guard Sydney Hancock uncontested attempts at 3-pointers. The junior guard connected on two deep balls and Craffey added another as the Lakers enjoyed a 30-11 halftime lead.

“Our shooting percentage was much better tonight. We did a great job getting the ball inside early on and made our presence felt,” Coach True said. “In the first half, we took eight 3-pointers. So, we cut that number in half (compared to the Waynflete game, which we had 16). We were 4-for-8, which helped our shooting percentage. I really liked our balance.”

Defensively, the Lakers’ intensity hurried Cape players’ shooting which resulted in the guests managing just 11 points in the first half and 7 over the final 16 minutes. Carter “played big” inside, hauling down 11 rebounds while blocking two shots.

With Carter scoring six of the team’s first 7 points of the third quarter (including one bucket off a perfectly placed lob pass from Craffey) midway through the third, Coach True went to his bench with a 37-11 lead. Five reserves scored, and the subs held Cape to just a free throw and one field goal (coming with 7.8 seconds left) in the fourth quarter.

“We’re going to play nine or 10 kids every night, so these situations are great for our number 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 12 players to increase their minutes,” Coach True said. “There’s a balance. At some point, we need to get the starters major minutes so they can play that way when we face better teams so that their stamina holds up. At the same time, we need to get minutes for other kids who will make an impact at some point.”

Since the Lakers have won several games by wide margins, one might worry the team could become overconfident or look ahead. Coach True has yet to see either.

“The kids love to play. They only know how to play hard, so right now, it’s not really tough at all getting them ready to play,” he said.

If a 6-0 start has indeed affected any Laker, Coach True has the perfect remedy ready to go.

“Fort Meyers will take care of that problem. It will be an eye-opening experience for our kids,” he said.

Early Tuesday morning, the Lakers were Florida bound to compete in the Queen of the City of Palms Tournament in Fort Meyers. The tournament features 64 high school teams from across the country. The Lakers were scheduled for three games.

“We were looking for some exposure for our kids (who want to play college basketball), and this will help,” Coach True said. “Hopefully, we’ll come back prepared to face three very good teams — Greely, Wells and York.”

Up next: The Lakers return to league play on Wednesday, Jan. 4 at home against Greely. In the Heal Ratings released this week, the Rangers (5-1) sit in first place with the Lakers (5-0) in second. Certainly, it is early to start the Heal Watch — defending “B” champ Leavitt is sixth at 4-0 — but this game represents a good measuring stick as to where the clubs are and will be worth big tourney points. Game time is 7 p.m. The Lakers then travel to Wells on Friday, Jan. 6 at 6 p.m. The Warriors are currently ranked third with a 4-2 record.

The “competitive” stretch of the schedule continues with a home game Jan. 10 against fifth-ranked York and an away game Jan. 12 against fourth-ranked Falmouth.

Lakers 50

Tiana Jo-Carter 14, Sydney Hancock 11, Abby Craffey 6, Kelsey Winslow 5, Kate Cutting 1, Savannah DeVoe 2, Kayleigh Lepage 2, Sarah Hancock 2, Jordan Turner 2, Shannon VanLoan 4, Rachel Wandishin 1.

3-Pointers: Sy. Hancock 2, Craffey 2

Free Throws: 8-of-15

Turnovers: 17

Rebounds: 36 (Tiana-Jo Carter 11, Jordan Turner 7, Kelsey Winslow 4, Shannon VanLoan 4, Rachel Wandishin 3, Kayleigh Lepage 2, Abby Craffey 2, Allison Clark 1, Sarah Hancock 1, Kate Cutting 1

Cape Elizabeth 18

Kisa Tabery 4, Kayla Raftice 4, Kate Miklavic 2, Shannon Nicholson 2, Caroline Kelly 2, Elise Flathers 2, Maddy Riker 1

Free Throws: 2-of-8

Turnovers: 26

Rebounds: 19 (team leaders, Shannon Nicholson 4, Mary Perkins 3, Kisa Tabery 2, Kayla Raftice 2)

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