Lakers pay back Freeport; advance to semis against Greely

MUCH TOUGHER PATH THIS TIME AROUND — Freeport's Nina Davenport had few good looks at the basket Tuesday night as Lake Region center Tiana-Jo Carter was a force on the defensive end. Carter netted 17 points, collected 14 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. Davenport, who scored 23 points in the Falcons' upset win against a Carter-less Laker squad, scored just 11 points. (Rivet Photo)

MUCH TOUGHER PATH THIS TIME AROUND — Freeport's Nina Davenport had few good looks at the basket Tuesday night as Lake Region center Tiana-Jo Carter was a force on the defensive end. Carter netted 17 points, collected 14 rebounds and blocked 10 shots. Davenport, who scored 23 points in the Falcons' upset win against a Carter-less Laker squad, scored just 11 points. (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Sometimes, a loss can be a good thing.

Lake Region players had a bad taste left in their mouths when they lost a road game to Freeport.

They remembered the shock of being outscored 15-0 in the pivotal third quarter during that debacle.

The top-ranked Lakers gained redemption and made a bold statement Tuesday night when they throttled the eighth-seed Freeport 65-29 in the Class B West quarterfinals at the Portland Expo.

Junior center Tiana-Jo Carter made life miserable for Falcon’s high scorer Nina Davenport, who had 23 points in the upset win last month. Tiana was easily the best player on the floor, scoring a game-high 17 points, while dominating the paint to the tune of 14 rebounds and 10 blocked shots. Her presence altered shots, as well, as Freeport went 4-for-25 in the first half from the floor, a mere 16% as the Lakers built a 30-12 lead.

Davenport had just 11 points on the night, six coming in the third quarter as the Lakers extended their lead to 44-20.

Unlike past tournaments, the Lakers started quickly as guards sliced the Falcon defense with well-targeted passes to either Carter or senior forward Kelsey Winslow (17 points), who shared scoring honors with Carter. LR rattled off 13 straight points before the Falcons ended the run with a 3-pointer from the corner by Aubrey Pennell — her only hoop of the contest — with 2:25 left.

After Freeport trimmed the deficit to 15-7, the Lakers continued to pound the ball inside to open the lead back to 18, sinking 9-of-14 foul shots.

Coach Paul True said the game plan was to look inside first, then kick the ball outside for open looks. But, LR found great success crashing the boards as Winslow collected 11 rebounds on the night.

Whenever the Lakers seemed to hit a brief bump in the road, Coach True simply yelled out, “Are we going to let them back into the game?” It caught the LR girls’ attention. The Lakers never dialed down their intensity, keeping their foot on the pedal all night, including the fourth quarter when they had as much energy as they did in the opening minutes. The result was fast attacks to the hoop, including two nifty flip shots by senior guard Sydney Hancock (10 points), who drained a 3-pointer with 3:50 left and a steal by CeCe Hancock, who raced in for a layup.

GOING THE OTHER WAY — Lake Region guard CeCe Hancock steals the ball from Freeport's Hannah Chase during second half action Tuesday night. CeCe scored on the play, and finished with 6 points.

GOING THE OTHER WAY — Lake Region guard CeCe Hancock steals the ball from Freeport's Hannah Chase during second half action Tuesday night. CeCe scored on the play, and finished with 6 points.

Even the reserves played with confidence. Junior Miranda Chadbourne and senior Kari Eldridge were hardly shy about pulling the trigger on 3-point chances late in the game, each swishing the long-range shots.

For the Lakers, Sarah Hancock scored 4 points, Savannah Devoe 3 and Kayleigh Lepage had 2 points.

When the dust settled, Freeport made just 3 field goals in the first quarter, 1 in the second, 4 in the third and 3 in the fourth.

The display left Freeport coach Jim Seavey in awe.

“We just talked about it in the locker room. I told the kids, ‘You could have very well potentially have lost to the state champion.’ That’s a juggernaut,” said Seavey. “They’ve got so many weapons. And then, someone like Carter with her presence inside just makes everything difficult. Even if she’s not blocking shots, she’s altering them.”

Now, the Lakers hope to ramp it up once again today when they meet fifth-ranked Greely at 4:30 p.m. at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The Rangers, who split with the Lakers during the regular season, beat fourth-ranked Leavitt 42-27 behind twin towers Ashley Storey (14 points) and Jackie Storey (10 points).

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