LR Hoops: Huntress sinks key free throws to rally team past Wells; boys lose opener
By Wayne E. Rivet
All week, Coach Paul True preached to his team the importance of making foul shots.
“I told them that close games often are decided by the team that makes their foul shots,” True said.
Senior Kristen Huntress proved her coach right.
After struggling to get perimeter shots off in the first half against an aggressive Wells defense and going scoreless, Huntress delivered with the game on the line.
Showing no signs of nervousness, Huntress went 4-for-4 from the foul line to help lead Lake Region to a thrilling 32-29 comeback win over the Warriors in last Friday’s season opener.
Huntress finished with 11 points, all in the second half as the Lakers fought back from a poor shooting opening half and rallied from a five-point deficit at the break.
Both teams struggled at the offensive end in the first quarter. Wells built a 5-0 lead, but the Lakers closed out the quarter with a Chandler True foul shot and a 3-pointer by Melody Millett from the left wing off several crisp passes that found the senior forward all alone.
“I really give Wells all the credit. They are an extremely physical team. Defensively, I thought they dictated the tempo and forced us to become tentative and apprehensive,” LR Coach Paul True said. “We got some good shots that didn’t go, but I thought Wells played really well.”
Although it was still early in the game, Coach True felt his team was teetering on facing a long uphill battle if they hadn’t found some offense soon.
“I thought it was a huge key that when we struggled early, they didn’t build a big lead. When it was 5-0, if they score another basket or two, we could be playing from behind all night,” Coach True said. “But, then it was 5-4, and I thought our girls competed and got back into the game.”
Going in, the Lakers knew they had to work hard inside to keep Wells’ 5-foot-10 senior forwards Taryn Lambert (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Halee Ramsdell (12 points, 8 rebounds) off the boards. Lakers Lauren Jakobs (10 rebounds) and Millett (7) were solid in the paint all night, enabling the team to stay close despite early cold shooting and turnovers (10 at the half).
“Rebounding for the most part was really good tonight. We did a great job, other than two possessions the entire game, of defending perimeter shooters. We were equally as good defensively,” Coach True said. “It kept us in the game.”
LR never led in the first half, but managed to at least stay close. A Chandler True drive and a heads-up follow off a missed shot by Jakobs left the Lakers down just 16-11 at intermission.
“I think in the beginning we were nervous because we haven’t really played together through the preseason. Once we got into the flow of things, we were better,” Millett said. “Our defense was much better in the second half, which was really important.”
Tighter defense turned the game into the Lakers’ favor in the second half.
“No question, we picked up our defense in the third quarter. We changed our defense a little. I thought it caught them a little bit off guard and it caused a couple of turnovers,” Coach True said. “It allowed us to push the ball offensively, and gave us more possessions.”
Working the inside, the Lakers pulled even with 5:43 left in the third quarter as Millett converted a layup and Huntress beat the Warriors to the glass on a fastbreak.
Despite a 3-pointer by Huntress in the final minute, the Lakers still trailed 23-20 entering the final period.
Momentum, however, was now on the Lakers’ side. A Huntress inside hoop and a nifty spin move by Jakobs on the lower block resulted in a easy hoop and the team’s first lead with 6:56 left in regulation.
After two lead changes, the Lakers took command. Chandler True worked for position in the lane, and apparently a Wells defender expected a pass, leaving True alone. True’s shot off the glass gave the Lakers a 3-point edge.
Later, Wells turned the ball over, and the Lakers looked to take some time off the clock by moving the ball around the perimeter. Wells gambled for a steal, and it backfired as True found sophomore Brooke Harriman alone inside for two points.
With 2:01 remaining, Wells staged a rally as Lambert scored in the lane and Ramsdell converted an offensive rebound into 2 points.
Huntress provided a little breathing room with two foul shots with 11 seconds left to make it a 32-29 Laker lead.
It took a while to complete the game as both coaches — True and Wells’ Don Abbott — utilized consecutive timeouts to see what the other had planned. Again, the Lakers made the big play as the Wells’ inbound pass was deflected down the sideline — ball game.
“I thought we got pushed around a little bit in the first half, but responded in the second. We turned it up a notch. This will be a huge win at the end of the season,” Coach True said. “The first three games are going to be against three of the top 5 in B South. Getting this win tonight was huge.”
For the Lakers, Jakobs finished with 8 points, Millett 4 and Harriman 4.
The Lakers were 8-of-14 from the line, while Wells was just 2-of-5. Turnovers were even at 17. The Lakers held a slight rebounding edge, 25-23.
- Tuesday, the Lakers fell behind 6-0 early and just couldn’t quite rally, falling 28-24 to Yarmouth (1-1).
The Clippers enjoyed a 13-5 at halftime and 20-11 after three quarters. LR (1-1) finally reached double digits by scoring 13 points in the fourth quarter.
Kristen Huntress scored a game-high 13 points, including dropping three 3-pointers. Lauren Jakobs chipped in 5 points, Rachel Shanks 3 (trey), Melody Millett 2 and Nevaeh Stewart 1.
Up next: The Lakers travel to Lincoln Academy tonight, Dec. 15 for a 6:30 p.m. game. Then, the Lakers host Waynflete on Saturday at 4 and head to Traip Academy on Monday at 6:30 p.m.
Wells 60, Lakers 47: Tyler Walker scored a game-high 19 points and had five rebounds, but was the lone Laker to reach double digits, as Wells broke the game open with a 20-12 third quarter run.
The Lakers trailed on the road 14-6, but had several good scoring chances inside the lane early but failed to convert.
Wells edged out to a 27-19 halftime lead.
“Wells came out in a half-court trapping defense that we struggled with at the beginning, which gave them a few easy baskets. Once we figured it out, we were down eight points and played even with them,” LR Coach John Mayo said. “At the end of the third quarter, they hit two big 3s that put them up 16. We cut it to nine, but never were able to get it below that.”
Guard Tristen Chaine came up with six rebounds and six points. True Meyers chipped in 9 points, Mark Mayo 8, Doug Mayo 3 and Tyler Breton 2.
“I thought we played good half-court defense. When they had to go against our set defense, we made it difficult for them to score. They got their lead when we had turnovers against the pressure or in transition after a missed shot or turnover,” Coach Mayo said. “We need to be comfortable against pressure and share the basketball on offense. This was the first varsity game for all our players except Tyler. We missed some easy shots and rushed a few shots. They worked really hard and need to get more relaxed and comfortable on the floor. They rushed things at times, but they all should be more comfortable on the floor now that we have a game under our belt.”
Coach Mayo liked the way his squad played hard for the full game.
“We made mistakes on the offensive end, but I thought our defense was strong. Wells is one of the top teams in our league and we played with them for the whole game. We need to limit turnovers and continue to get better on offense,” Coach Mayo added.
- Tuesday, the Lakers dropped a 75-55 home loss to Yarmouth.
Up next: The Lakers host Lincoln Academy tonight, Dec. 15, travel Saturday to Waynflete, host Traip Academy Monday and visit Old Orchard Beach Wednesday, Dec. 21. All games are 7 p.m. starts.