Lakers rolling along, improve to 5-0

PROTECTING THE PAINT — Lake Region junior center Tiana-Jo Carter (left) defends the lane against Freeport's Nina Davenport during Saturday night's game at Nutting Gym. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Coach Paul True has seen “flashes” as to how good his Lake Region girls’ basketball team could be.

He saw two rookies continue their impressive rise as key contributors in the Lakers thrilling 60-55 victory over Waynflete last week.

He saw a glimpse as to how explosive the team can be at both ends of the court once all 13 players can go at full tilt in the Lakers 45-27 dismantling of Freeport Saturday.

And, the Lakers showed they can make the big plays under pressure in a 47-41 road win against Gray-New Gloucester Tuesday night to run their record to 5-0.

A pretty good week.

Here’s how it unfolded:

First stop: Waynflete

While Martha Veroneau was the big gun in the gym, coming off a game in which she scored her 1,000th point at Waynflete, Laker freshman CeCe Hancock was the one to steal the limelight early in the game.

Her quickness to push the fast break enabled the Lakers to score several lay-ups en route to a 19–4 lead. Senior forward Kelsey Winslow was the direct benefactor of the fast-paced attack, scoring 8 of her team-high 21 points during the first quarter. She finished with 10 rebounds.

“One constant for us, which never changes, it’s the way Kelsey runs the floor. We made good decisions with the basketball. We found ourselves with some easy looks. She is very athletic and fast break basketball fits the way she plays, just because she runs the floor so well, not that she can’t play in the halfcourt,” Coach True said. “Again, it is all about getting the people the ball where they are most successful. Kelsey is very dangerous when she is out on the break.”

Winslow produced two big bounce-back offensive efforts after a slow start on opening night at Poland. She torched Yarmouth for 36 points, and then followed it up with another dominant inside effort against the Flyers.

“In the first game, Kelsey was active and played well, she just didn’t finish,” Coach True said. “It takes a couple of makes to get you going.”

FILLING IN NICELY — With injuries to two starting guards, freshman CeCe Hancock (right) has stepped into the point guard role and has given the Lakers a major spark, both on offense and defense. Here, she brings the ball up the court against Freeport defender Ashley Richardson. (Rivet Photo)

And, CeCe was the one to get the LR offense shifted into high gear. Forced into the starting line-up due to injuries to cousin Sydney and sister Sarah, CeCe answered the challenge, and then some. Although she made some errant passes at times, trying to deliver the deep toss, CeCe had the LR offense rolling.

“CeCe has grown up in a hurry. She has done a fantastic job. Every time out for her is going to be another learning experience, another opportunity to gain experience. She is getting better every time she plays,” Coach True said. “I think a couple of factors are reasons for her success. First, coaches in the system do a great job preparing players to play at the varsity level. So, when we get these younger kids, yes, they have to adjust emotionally, yes, they need to adjust to a much quicker game, but they are not learning a new system all at the same time, which is crucial.”

Fitting in is also important.

“The way we approach the game, everyone is treated with respect and everyone is important regardless if you are a senior or freshman, it really helps our younger kids to settle into roles a lot quicker,” Coach True added. “CeCe lives a little bit dangerously, and I don’t want to change that about her. I love her reckless abandon, at times. CeCe will continue to grow emotionally and always playing for the next play. She needs to get better at shrugging off a cheap foul call, turnover and shot that didn’t go in. She needs to move beyond that quicker. She already has made strides there.”

Junior center Tiana-Jo Carter was a force inside, hauling down 21 rebounds while blocking 5 shots to go along with 15 points. With the Lakers holding a big rebounding edge (37 to 25 for the game), they enjoyed a 30–19 lead at intermission as Kate Cutting drained a 3-pointer in the closing seconds.

Waynflete, however, would make this game quite interesting down the stretch behind their star guard Veroneau. She connected for four 3-pointers and added several buckets by hustling to the glass for rebounds off her own missed shots to help pull the Flyers to within 8 points with 3:26 to go.

The Lakers kept the Flyers at bay by connecting on 6 of 12 foul shots down the stretch to escape with the victory.

“That was a huge win for us. Obviously, it was a difficult match-up. On the perimeter, matching up with their speed and experience, I thought our kids played great,” Coach True said. “Even when we stretched the lead to 12, I knew it was going to be a dogfight until the end. I thought that was as consistent for 32 minutes that we’ve played in a long time.”

Coach True tipped his hat to the defensive effort turned in by junior guard Miranda Chadbourne, who chased Veroneau all evening.

“Miranda played unbelievable. We had a closed doors team meeting about our defensive effort and about being more consistent. We wanted to see someone take responsibility on the defensive end, and that is exactly what Miranda has done. (Leigh) Wyman (of Freeport) didn’t score. Veroneau scored 16 in the fourth quarter, some of them put backs off chucks from 24 feet. So, she did a fantastic job on a kid that scored 35.”

True said Chadbourne’s emergence as a defensive stopper is all about her attention to detail.

“Miranda pays attention. She always looks at you and acknowledges what you are saying,” Coach True said. “Her effort is always fantastic. That’s what you can count on with Miranda — she is coachable and she is going to give her best effort all the time.”

Chadbourne had 8 points. Other scorers were: CeCe Hancock 11 points, 7-of-12 from the foul line; Kate Cutting 3, Savannah Devoe 2.

Turnovers: LR 20, Waynflete 14.

Free Throws: LR 21-of-32, Waynflete 4-of-6.

Next stop: Freeport

With longtime coach Jim Seavey now at the helm and the return of center Nina Davenport and veteran guard Leigh Wyman, Freeport is looking to be a player in the WMC this season.

The Lakers showed the Falcons they still have a ways to go.

Tiana-Jo Carter out-dueled Davenport in the lane, scoring 15 points, hauling down 13 rebounds and blocking 4 shots as the Lakers rolled to a 45–27 victory at home Saturday night.

Carter was a force, but still seems to catch no breaks from game officials.

“It’s a balancing act. We want T to play aggressive, but we can’t afford her to be in foul trouble. There are times she is pulling back a bit not to commit a foul,” Coach True said. “No question, going back to the Poland game, she has stepped up in a big way. What is frustrating is she has people hanging all over her when she rebounds the ball, often doubled and triple teamed, and being very physical with her, yet she is not getting foul calls right now. Yet, when she is able to rebound the ball with those long arms, she is being called for ‘over the back,’ which she really isn’t. It is something she needs to deal with.”

The game marked the return of Sydney and Sarah Hancock. While Sydney eased into the game, Sarah was able to really “get after it,” Coach True said. She connected on three 3-pointers and was the defense’s field general.

“We can play more our style with all 13 kids in uniform and able to play. There were flashes of that against Freeport. You can see defensively how good we will be once we have everyone able to play,” Coach True said. “I thought Sarah played with great energy, attitude and from a leadership and communication standpoint, she is very good on the floor. Her ability to communicate is very important. She takes that responsibility very seriously.”

Up 12–4 after the first quarter, the Lakers kept their foot on the pedal as four different players scored to take a 23–11 lead into the break.

The Lakers would push the lead to 15 in the third quarter, but Freeport made a mini run in the closing minute as Jocelyn Davee knocked down a jump shot and Davenport scored inside as the Falcons inched closer, 31–22.

Two Carter buckets, one off a nifty drive and dish in the lane by CeCe Hancock, restored order. Freeport went the first 3 minutes without scoring before Ashley Richardson netted two hoops.

LR closed the game out taking the ball strong to the hoop, resulting in baskets from Winslow, Hancock and Cutting.

Coach True likes the continued development of his reserves. They work very hard, but the coach wants them to also enjoy the ride, at the same time.

“Everybody needs to relax, play the game and have fun. The kids want so much to be part of what we’re doing, they tend to put too much stress and pressure on themselves. They need to let it go, play freely and have some fun,” he said.

For the Lakers, Sarah Hancock netted 9 points, Winslow 6, CeCe Hancock 5, Cutting 4, Chadbourne 4 and Kayleigh Lepage 2.

Rebounds: LR 38, Freeport 22. Top LR rebounders: Carter 13, Winslow 8, Devoe 5, Chadbourne 4.

Turnovers: LR 20, Freeport 19.

FT: LR 8-of-16, F 3-of-7.

Final stop: Gray-NG

CeCe Hancock proved again Tuesday night she is unafraid of the big moment.

Hancock sank a critical 3-pointer with 4 minutes left to break a 34–34 tie as the Lakers edged Gray-NG 47–41 on the road. The loss was the Patriots’ first on the season.

One trouble area early this season for the Lakers had been free throw shooting. The Lakers coolly sank 9 of 13 down the stretch to ice the win. They made 16 on the night.

After taking a 13–9 lead in the first, the Lakers found themselves behind at intermission, 22–21. Still behind in the fourth, the Lakers rallied with a 20–11 surge.

Tiana-Jo Carter and Sarah Hancock paced the offense with 10 points each, while CeCe Hancock finished with 9, Kelsey Winslow 6, Miranda Chadbourne 5, Sydney Hancock 4, Kayleigh Lepage 2 and Kate Cutting 1.

Gray-NG’s Maria Valente was the game’s high scorer with 20 points, while Hayley Cote added 14 points and 7 rebounds for the Patriots (3-1).

Up next: The Lakers travel to Cape Elizabeth on Saturday for a 7 p.m. game. Then, it is the holiday break with a trip to North Easton, Mass. for the Rivard Tourney at Oliver Ames on Dec. 27-28.. The Lakers return to league action on Thursday, Jan. 3 with a road trip to Greely at 7 p.m.


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