Lakers sting Leavitt in OT

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — For Abby Craffey, it was a chance for redemption.

“The last time I played against them, I really didn’t have a very good game,” the Lake Region senior guard said. “So, I was really psyched to get another chance to play them.”

Wanting to shoot the ball better and handle Leavitt’s intense pressure weighed heavily on Craffey’s mind.

“We worked on their pressure, and knew we just had to stay confident and trust our game,” she said.

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LAKERS 59

Tiana-Jo Carter 3-2-8, Allison Clark 2-0-6, Abby Craffey 7-0-19, Sarah Hancock 2-0-5, Sydney Hancock 0-1-1, Jordan Turner 1-0-2, Kelsey Winslow 5-8-18, Savannah DeVoe, Rachel Wandishin. 3-Pointers: Craffey 5, Clark 2, Sa. Hancock 1.

LEAVITT 54

Kristen Anderson 10-2-27, Amanda Jordan 0-2-2, Adrianna Newton 9-3-22, Mariah Treadwell 1-1-3, Sarah Frost, Kelly Pomerleau. 3-Pointers: Anderson 5, Newton 1.

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Craffey scored a team-high 19 points, including some clutch 3-pointers (she had five on the night) to lead Lake Region to a thrilling 59-54 overtime victory over defending state champ Leavitt in the Class B West semi-finals.

Junior forward Kelsey Winslow took advantage of an undersized Leavitt front line, scoring 18 points, including 8-of-14 from the foul line, to go along with 12 rebounds.

“I knew this was such a big game for us that I really looked to be aggressive. We really wanted to show Leavitt what we truly have,” she said.

Unlike previous tourney games, the Lakers shot well in the opening quarter, connecting on 7-of-15 shots to build a 16-9 lead. Showing patience and poise, the Lakers were able to beat Leavitt’s press and scored some easy buckets in transition as guards Sydney Hancock and Sarah Hancock each found Winslow for lay-ups, and an 11-7 lead.

“To see them take the press off after the first few minutes, I think that gave our kids huge confidence,” Coach True said. “We knew once we got the ball over the top, we wanted to attack. If they were going to press us, then we wanted to score lay-ups at the other end.”

Senior Allison Clark put an exclamation point on a strong opening 8 minutes by draining a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer for a 16-9 LR lead.

The Lakers built a seven-point lead late in the second quarter behind two hoops from center Tiana-Jo Carter, who was dominant inside, hauling down 25 rebounds to go along with five blocked shots and eight points. Her presence continually frustrated Leavitt’s center Adrianna Newton.

“In the fourth quarter, Newton made a spin move and tried a hook shot, and T blocked it. Newton turned around to say, ‘What do I need to do to get a shot off?’ Tiana played incredibly inside, and it was frustrating for them,” Coach True said. “Tiana has the capability of doing that night in and night out. She has worked so hard, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”

Leavitt made a late run as leading scorer Kristen Anderson (27 points) drained a 3-pointer with 1.2 seconds left to pull the Hornets to within 27-24 at halftime.

Despite some outstanding tight defense by LR junior guard Sydney Hancock, Anderson heated up in the third quarter to tie the game, 30-30. But, Craffey was equal to the challenge, sinking back-to-back 3-pointers to put the Lakers back on top, 36-30. Another Clark deep ball made it 40-34 entering the fourth.

With the Lakers struggling to score (1-of-10 from the floor, 3-of-4 from the foul line), Leavitt mounted its comeback. Anderson came up with a steal with 3:02 left and converted it into a lay-up to tie the game, 43-43. Craffey scored the Lakers’ first bucket with 2:46 on a nifty drive. But, Newton answered with a jumper with 2:28 to tie the game, 45-45.

LR had a chance to take the lead in the closing seconds, but turned the ball over. With 10 seconds left, everyone in the building knew who was going to take the final shot — #25, Kristen Anderson. She did, but missed a fall-away, deep 3-pointer along the right side.

Coach True praised the defensive effort by Sydney Hancock, who pressured Anderson, but also managed to avoid a foul call.

“We’ve been working on getting the ball out of her (Anderson’s) hands or making sure we were quick to help on any ball screens. The kids executed all game long,” Coach True said. “Sydney did a great job on Anderson all game long. It’s tough and physically draining, but Sydney lives for those types of moments and those challenges. Defensively, that was a tall task, but she did a nice job to answer that call.”

Hancock knew she had her hands full trying to keep pace with a prolific scorer like Anderson.

“It was quite a challenge because she is an outstanding player. You can’t take a break for a second because she will shoot it from anywhere. I kept my hands up and kept moving my feet,” she said. “Even though she was making some shots, I could tell she was getting frustrated at times.”

Overtime was full of fireworks. Up 46-45 on a Winslow free throw, the Lakers knocked down three straight 3-pointers — two by Craffey, one by Clark. Anderson answered for Leavitt, but with 1:20 left, the Lakers led 55-51.

Winslow again made a free throw with 55 seconds left, but Anderson kept everyone on the edge of their seats by draining a 3-pointer with 33.6 seconds to make it 56-54.

The Lakers dominated the glass (49-33) all game, and it paid off in the closing seconds as Carter and Winslow gave their team second chance opportunities, which resulted in 3-of-4 free throw shooting over the final 28 seconds to nail down the victory.

“It (overtime) was fun. Even when they made their 3, we came right back, kept our poise, and made a 3 too,” Craffey said. “I was wide open and had confidence to take the shot. I knew I could hit it. Everyone was so confident, playing a great game. We owned the boards. It was really fun to play in.”

What a difference a year makes.

“Last year, we were really young. This time, we knew what to expect. We were more patient and poised. We didn’t freak out,” Sydney Hancock said. “We stayed positive the whole time. We never got down. We really believed we were going to come out on top. With 10 seconds left, they could easily have hit a three, but we kept our poise and played hard like we had done the whole game. This game was ours. We’ve been working hard all year and we weren’t going to give in. We got it done. We’ve grown tremendously. We make better decisions. I feel we can do anything.”

Coach True had a simple message to his team prior to the overtime.

“The message was to stay true to what we were doing, stay committed and disciplined, and I thought we were going to do it collectively as a team, and not as individuals. The kids did a great job holding to that,” he said. “This game was unbelievable. Again, I am so proud of our kids to step up, play loose and have the confidence to knock those shots down at critical times of the game. It was fun to watch.”

In the end, a balanced Laker attack at both ends of the court triumphed over a Leavitt squad that relied heavily on its two stars.

“We just felt like this team wasn’t going to score 70 against us,” Coach True said. “There was some word around that they were taking us a little lightly, that this was going to be a cakewalk. Our kids certainly responded. Our kids never wavered from what our vision was.”

Stat Line

Turnovers: LR 21, LVT 10

Field Goals: LR 25-61, LVT 20-77

Free Throws: LR 11-20, LVT 7-12

Rebounds: LR, Tiana-Jo Carter 25, Kelsey Winslow 12, Sarah Hancock 5, Allison Clark 4, Jordan Turner 2, Abby Craffey 1; LVT, Adrianna Newton 16, Sarah Frost 6, Kristen Anderson 4, Amanda Jordan 4, Mariah Treadwell 3.

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