Lakers shake off pesky Falcons

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

On a night when the Lakers needed someone else to be a dominant inside presence, Kelsey Winslow stepped into the limelight.

With starting center Tiana-Jo Carter battling foul trouble, Winslow scored 15 points and collected 6 rebounds as the Lakers withstood a pesky Freeport team, 49-25 Saturday night at Nutting Gymnasium.

“Kelsey had an unbelievable night. I couldn’t be happier for her. She works very hard. She runs the floor so well, and always gives us a consistent effort, be it scoring on the fast break, or making a strong move to the basket or rebounding the basketball,” LR Coach Paul True said. “She gave us what we needed tonight.”

This Falcon team did not resemble past Freeport squads, which the Lakers seemed to run over with regularity. Sophomores Nina Davenport (12 points, 9 rebounds) Vanessa Lee (8 rebounds) were tough inside all night at both ends of the court.

Laker pressure forced seven turnovers in the opening quarter, but the home team led just 14-6 because on several breaks, players attempted one too many passes resulting in Freeport steals.

“It was crucial for us to approach this game with the right frame of mind, because in the past, we’ve handled Freeport. I thought our kids did a great job of really being focused,” Coach True said. “Our ball movement on offense was much better tonight than in games past. There were times that we penetrated (the lane) and should have been thinking shot instead of a pass at that point.”

Winslow was a major force in getting the Lakers off on the right foot. She continually beat Freeport defenders down the court, resulting in two lay-ups and a 4-for-4 outing at the foul line.

Unlike past Freeport teams, the Falcons adjusted to the game’s quick pace and committed just four turnovers in the second quarter. When LR inside enforcer Tiana-Jo Carter picked up her third foul with 5:07 left in the half, the 6-foot-1 center went to the bench with her team up 10 points.

Freeport took advantage of Carter’s absence. The Falcons out rebounded the Lakers 9-5, scoring three buckets off offensive boards. Davenport energized her team with two scores in the final minute as Freeport inched closer, 22-17. However, LR ended their two-minute scoring drought when freshman guard Sarah Hancock dropped a perfectly placed deep pass to Winslow for a lay-up to end the half.

Lakers 24, Freeport 17.

Foul trouble would continue to haunt the Lakers in the second half as Winslow headed to the bench with 3:11 left in the third after picking up her fourth personal.

What may separate the Lakers from the rest of the West is the team’s overall depth. Senior Shannon VanLoan turned in quality minutes as the Lakers upped their lead to 34-24 after three quarters. VanLoann had 5 rebounds and a blocked shot.

“We, as coaches, talked about what great kids we have. Shannon, a game ago, didn’t play at all. Tonight, she comes in and plays some huge minutes for us and played fantastic. She put in a lot of work in the off-season, and it is showing,” Coach True said. “Again, we’re deep. We have a lot of kids on the bench that do a great job when they come into a game. It goes to show that our depth is a factor and our physical conditioning is pretty good. I thought a big part of tonight’s game was the fact that we wore them down.”

Carter’s presence also changed the game’s complexion. She finished the night with 23 rebounds and two blocked shots. Her return signaled the end to second-shot chances for Freeport. Coach True also liked how his club played defense over the final 16 minutes.

“I thought our kids did a good job when asked to play multiple defenses tonight. They adjusted well. We gave them a number of different looks,” he said.

After a scoreless first half, guard Sydney Hancock became a little more offensive minded in the third quarter, knocking down two 3-pointers to get the LR offense rolling.

“Sydney has been looking to pass first, shoot second. She has to look at shot first, and if she is being overplayed and can’t get a shot off, then it is time to attack and find an open player,” Coach True said. “She did a good job of that tonight. As a guard, if you are penetrating and thinking about pass first, you won’t locate the rim and likely won’t make the shot.”

The fourth quarter was a Laker clinic, both offensively and defensively. Crisp passing produced easy inside buckets as four different players scored, and unlike past games, the Lakers converted at the foul line (6-of-8) to close out their opponent.

Carter was a force, hauling down 7 rebounds over the final eight minutes. More importantly, she played the final six minutes with four fouls.

Defensively, the Lakers completely shut down Freeport as the Falcons managed just one point as Alexandra Mitch prevented a goose egg for the quarter by sinking a foul shot with 13.3 seconds left.

“I was very happy compared to our showing at Waynflete, where we were 3-of-16 shooting 3-pointers in the first half. It shows that the kids are paying attention and making adjustments. They did a great job of getting the ball inside tonight,” Coach True said.

True liked the fact that his team was under pressure for three quarters and his post players faced a physical challenge.

“Our big kids have to know that they are going to be doubled and tripled teamed,” he said. “We have to adjust and respond to it.”

For the Lakers (4-0), Sydney Hancock fired in 10 points (three 3-pointers), Carter 9, Abby Craffey 6, Sarah Hancock 4, Allison Clark 3 (a trey) and Rachel Wandishin had 2 points.

For Freeport, Jocelyn Davee had 4 points, Mitch 3, Morgan Brown 2, Lee 2 and Leigh Wyman had 2 points.

Rebounds: LR 45, F 30.

Turnovers: LR 19, F 21

Free Throws: LR 11-22, Freeport 5-12

In other action

Lakers 45, Waynflete 36: At times, the Lakers fall in love with the 3-point shot and forget what their true offensive strength is.

After going 3-of-16 from behind the arc and leading Waynflete (1-2) just 23-16 at the half, the Lakers (3-0) went to their strength — they’re inside game. Tiana-Jo Carter scored 13 points and Kelsey Winslow added 12 as the Lakers turned back a spirited Flyer fourth-quarter comeback last Thursday in Portland.

Carter and Winslow converted on key buckets inside the final minute to offset a big night by Waynflete’s Martha Veroneau, who scored a game-high 25 points.

Abby Craffey knocked down two 3-pointers and finished with 7 points, while Rachel Wandishin contributed 6 points, Kasey Huntress had 4 and Sydney Hancock 3 (a trey).

Lakers 59, Gray-NG 26: Patriot Coach Mike Andreasen may have summed it up best about how tough it is to play the Lakers.”They’re in your face at both ends of the court,” he said.

After a slow start Tuesday at Gray (up 7-5), the Lakers were indeed in the Patriots’ face as Abby Craffey scored six points during an 11-0 second quarter run as the Lakers blew out G-NG (2-2) to improve to 5-0. Craffey finished with 8 points.

The Lakers rolled in the middle quarters — 18-6 and 20-5. Tiana-Jo Carter paced the LR attack with 14 points. Other scorers were: Allison Clark 12, Kelsey Winslow 8, Kate Cutting 6, Kayleigh Lepage 5, Sydney Hancock 3, Jordan Turner 2 and Sarah Hancock 1.

Up next: The Lakers host Cape Elizabeth tonight, Dec. 22 at 7 p.m.

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