Lakers speed it up, avenge loss to Greely

ELEVATING — Lake Region senior guard Sydney Hancock shoots over Greely center Ashley Storey during last Friday's showdown with the Rangers. (Rivet Photo)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

When Greely started the game with a 8-0 run, Sarah Hancock knew the Lakers simply needed to “keep our cool.”

A couple of defensive adjustments and gritty play did just the trick.

Behind a dominant effort inside by junior Tiana-Jo Carter (16 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocked shots) and scrappy play of freshman CeCe Hancock (13 points), the Lakers rallied for a convincing 44-31 victory over Greely last Friday night.

“I am really proud of Tiana’s effort tonight. I thought she played really hard. She got a lot of rebounds most kids don’t get to and she continues to alter the game at the defensive end,” LR Coach Paul True said.


The win avenged a five-point loss to the Rangers in Cumberland.

Greely focused on a mismatch early as Jordynne Copp posted up smaller LR guards and scored three hoops. With 3:44 to go and down eight, Coach True had seen enough.

“They did a great job to recognize the mismatch and it was obvious that was their game plan. It worked very well for them. So, we made a few changes,” Coach True said. “It was a mirror image of the first game we played against them. We hit two 3s and made a basket and were up 8-0 in less than a minute and a half. My comment to our players was this was exactly how we jumped out on them. Our motto is 32 minutes, so there was a long way to go. Our kids did a good job playing within themselves.”

And, they showed maturity.

“We just kept our cool. They got off to the fast start, but we didn’t let that get us down. We fought back,” Sarah Hancock said. “When we play our game, it’s up and down the court really fast.”

After a switch to more zone coverage, the Lakers held Greely to just a baseline jumper by Jaclyn Storey (13 points).

Every shot was tightly contested. Play inside the paint was physical. With Greely up 14-9, the Lakers used good ball movement to free up Sarah Hancock and Sydney Hancock, who each connected on 3-point shots to give the Lakers a 155-14 lead at halftime.

A key to opening up the Greely defense was the Lakers consistently taking the ball to the hoop, rather than simply settling for outside jump shots.

“We know if we take it right at them, they will foul us. It was a difference in the game,” Sarah said. “Shot selection is a big thing for us. Our biggest bad habit is catching the ball off the first pass and jacking a three. It doesn’t work well. But, when we move the ball really fast and get wide open looks, we can make those 3’s.”

Coach True liked the fight and determination he saw in his club.

“We really emphasized to break down the defense, find the gaps and take it to the basket. I didn’t care if we had shots blocked each time, we needed to be the aggressor. I thought the kids did that,” Coach True said. “Our kids play hard for 32 minutes. If we pressure like we do, we expect the other team will eventually break down.”

Foul trouble would swing this game. The Lakers’ aggressive play inside paid off as Ashley Storey was whistled for three fouls in the third quarter, ultimately fouling out with 1:58 remaining. After Storey was hit with her fourth foul, she picked up her fifth on rebounding action before the Greely coaching staff could substitute.

“Hindsight is 20-20. It is difficult to make that decision in the third quarter. We were in that position at the state game a year ago. If she played the remainder of the game, it would be a great coaching move. If she fouls out, then you are open to criticism. It sums up coaching in a nutshell,” Coach True said. “Whenever we were in a situation when they had just two bigs on the floor, I  thought we were able to apply more pressure on the ball.”

LR’s Savannah Devoe’s hustle to keep the ball alive off a missed free throw resulted in the big foul call.

With Storey (0 points) out and Copp carrying four fouls, the Lakers continued their attack inside as Devoe scored two foul shots, Carter banked a shot off an offensive rebound, and CeCe Hancock converted a steal into a lay-up for a 30-23 Laker lead.

The LR defense took over the fourth quarter as Greely managed just two field goals — scoring three foul shots over the final three minutes as the Lakers closed the game with a 7-2 run.

“It’s an awesome statement. Everyone is back in action and healthy. It’s so fun to have us all together, playing as one, playing as a team. We’re confident,” Sarah said. “It took some time for everyone to get on the same page. We’re getting closer.”

Sarah is also very pleased to see her little sister, CeCe, enjoying an “incredible” rookie season.

“I see it as a real privilege to play with my sister and my cousin. They’re my best friends, and we get to play a sport that we all really love. There is no real competition amongst us because we share a common goal — to get a “W.” It’s not who had more points, rebounds or assists. It’s about how well did we all play together,” Sarah said. “Sometimes, we say some things to each other that we might not say to other teammates, simply because we know the other can take it. We point things out to each other to help the other out. When we get home, we leave the negative stuff behind and just talk about the good things we did. We want each other to succeed. We want to be great together.”

Lake Region is starting to play its best basketball as the post-season nears. In many of the big Friday match-ups against the top contenders in the West, the Lakers seem to play in a gear quicker than their opponents.

“Our kids love to play fast. 98% of the time I am perfectly fine with it. But, there are times we can read the floor a little bit better or perhaps just bring the ball up and run the offense,” Coach True said. “I would much rather have the problem of pulling the reins than trying to speed them up.”

For the Lakers, Sydney Hancock had 8 points, Sarah Hancock 5 and Savannah Devoe 2.

Turnovers: LR 12, GRE 21.

FT: LR 10-23, GRE 6-9.

Up next: The Lakers close out the regular season tonight (Thursday, game moved from Friday due to impending snowstorm) against sixth-seed Gray-New Gloucester (13-4) at 7 p.m.



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