LR girls beat Oak Hill

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — On a day when nerves seemed to get the best of her teammates, Sydney Hancock provided both leadership and big plays.

And, she is just a sophomore.

Hancock, who played significant minutes in the playoffs a year ago, scored a game-high 20 points, including knocking down a 3-pointer at the top of the key midway through the fourth quarter as third-seeded Lake Region (17-2) scratched out a 54-45 win over pesky sixth-seeded Oak Hill (12-7) in the Class B West quarterfinals played at the Portland Expo Tuesday afternoon.

The Raiders erased an 11-point deficit in the first half and trailed just by a bucket after three quarters despite losing their leading scorer, senior Maggie

Sabine, for the final three minutes of the third period after she picked up her fourth foul.

After a quiet three quarters, LR freshman center Tianna-Jo Carter scored five points to open the final period. Hancock drained a trey and broke free for a lay-up off a long inbounds pass, and Kelsey Winslow sank a pair of foul shots as the Lakers finally created some daylight, 50-42 with 2:50 left.

Lake Region’s defense stiffened over the final 3:30 as Oak Hill managed just 3 points as Hancock blocked a jump shot by Oak Hill’s Darby Beaulieu inside the lane to seal the victory.

As with many games this season, the playoff win packed a number of valuable lessons.

“I was definitely really nervous. Everyone was saying not to be nervous, but I couldn’t help it. When I got out there, I think that is what hurt my game,” said Carter, who scored 9 points but ran into some foul trouble. “When I finally got my shots to go down, it made feel that we were right back at home at the Lake Region gym. It pumped me up and I started to play my game.”

Part of Carter’s troubles, however, could be attributed to the fine play of Oak Hill’s leader, Sabine.

“Sabine was a great defender. I couldn’t do anything inside there. They were a lot stronger than we expected,” Carter said. “I need to sit down better and not get pushed back under the basket. It was a real learning experience. Everything that they did we had gone over in practice. It was just a matter of doing what coach asked us to do. Now that I have had this experience, I think I’ll be better the next time out.”

Carter bounced back from foul trouble in the middle frames to play a solid fourth — with the game still in the balance — at both ends of the court.

“I knew I had to start playing a lot smarter. I knew that if I got another foul, I would have to sit out,” she said. “So, I just stayed straight up and stayed away from possible fouls.”

Both Carter and Sabine, who returned early in the fourth to close out the game without picking up her fifth personal foul. Sabine led the Raiders with 16 points and 14 rebounds.

Neither club looked too comfortable early on as they combined for 13 turnovers and just 11 points. Hancock was the LR offense early on, sinking a 3-pointer and later two foul shots for a 5-0 lead. Oak Hill finally erased the goose egg at the 3:50 mark as Chassidy Hilchey (10 points, 4 rebounds) scored in the lane.

LR led 7-4 after one.

Failing to score over the game’s first nine minutes, Sabine carried the Raiders through the second quarter, scoring seven straight points to tie the game at 11-11. Lake Region, however, regained momentum with an 11-0 run keyed by 3-pointers from Hancock and Allison Clark.

But, Oak Hill took advantage of some sloppy LR play over the final 37.5 seconds as Beaulieu (12 points) connected on two jumpers, the final one off a steal at the buzzer. Instead of a comfortable nine-point lead, the Lakers headed to the locker room up 22-17.

Both offenses hit their stride in the third. Rachel Wandishin drained a 3-pointer from the left wing to push the Laker lead to eight. However, Beaulieu continually drove the lane and pulled up for short jumpers enabling Oak Hill to close the gap. After Sabine cut the lead to 29-27 with 3:21 left in the third, Winslow made her presence felt. The LR sophomore forward sank a pair of foul shots, and would later add two lay-ups off inbound plays under the basket to give her club a 38-31 lead.

Again, the Lakers stumbled in the final seconds of the quarter, giving the Raiders’ life.

Hilchey scored off an offensive rebound, and sophomore guard Julie Morneault was fouled behind the 3-point arc at the buzzer. Cooly (she even flashed a smile while standing alone at the foul line), Morneault sank all three foul shots to close out the quarter, 38-36.

With the game’s outcome in the balance, Sydney Hancock took control. Playing the full 32 minutes, Hancock skillfully guided the offense scoring six points. But, she was most proud of her blocked shot.

“That was the most exciting thing I’ve done all year. I saw her (Beaulieu) driving the lane, knew when she was going up to take the shot, and blocked it perfectly,” Hancock said. “I’m a little worn out, but give me a few seconds and I’ll be okay. I’m definitely still catching my wind.”

Relieved to play another day (Thursday, 3 p.m. against second-seed Leavitt, 19-0), Hancock believes the Lakers will be sharper the next time out.

“We were definitely nervous. A number of the girls haven’t had to play in this atmosphere before. We did keep our composure quite well, considering what could have happened,” she said. “At times, we didn’t rebound or box out as well as we could have, which gave them a chance to get back into the game.”

What will the Lakers need to do to upend the high-scoring Hornets of Leavitt?

“It all comes down to composure. We need to play our game — execute on offense and play good defense,” she said. “We need to stop picking up the silly fouls. We can afford breakdowns, like we did in some of the quarters today. We need to play smart and play a full game.”

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