No Gold: Cold-shooting Lady Lakers squeezed by Winslow in Class B final

Broghan Gagnon 1-0-2, Sarah Guimond 0-3-3, Silver Clukey 3-0-8, Paige Trask 1-0-2, Madison Roy 1-0-3, Haley Ward 2-7-12, Bodhi Littlefield 0-2-2, Maeghan Bernard 2-0-4, Weslee Littlefield 0-7-7.
3-Pointers: Clukey 2, Roy 1, Ward 1
Turnovers: 15
FT: 19-30
FG: 9-22
Rebounds: 25 (W. Littlefield 5, Gagnon 4, B. Littlefield 4)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

BANGOR — They got a taste of their own medicine, and it tasted awful.

Lake Region emerged as the surprise winner of the Class B South regional title by locking down favorites Gray-New Gloucester and Freeport — holding the Patriots to just 2 points in the second quarter and the Falcons to 4 points during the pivotal third period.

Winslow (18-5) turned the tables on the Lakers in the Class B state championship game at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor Friday night, holding LRHS to single digits over the first three frames for a 43-29 victory.

Clogging the paint with three players for most of the night, the North champion Black Raiders took away lanes for seniors Chandler True and Lauren Jakobs to drive to the rim. The athletic and aggressive Raiders also forced the Lakers (16-6) into quick shots resulting in a woeful 4-for-31 shooting performance after three quarters.

“There weren’t any surprises in the game. I do think it is a factor in how familiar you are with your opponent. When you play in your regional tournament, you play against kids (other than Oak Hill) that you’ve competed against. Psychologically, it makes a difference. Winslow is very athletic and very good defensively. Let’s give them some credit. We simply missed some easy shots, especially early on. We just didn’t shoot the ball well,” Lake Region Coach Paul True said. “Absolutely, when you are not shooting well, you lose a little confidence and you don’t look for your shot.”

Lake Region lead for just 1 minute, 5 seconds when True dished the ball inside to Brooke Harriman for a layup. Both teams struggled to score out of the gate as the Lakers finally broke the ice three minutes into the contest.

Brooke Harriman 1-0-2, Melissa Bonenfant 1-0-3, Shauna Hancock 2-1-5, Chandler True 4-4-12, Lauren Jakobs 2-3-7, Bella Russo, Rachel Shanks, Nevaeh Stewart, Aisley Sturk.
3-Pointers: Bonenfant 1
Turnovers: 9
FT: 7-15
FG: 10-47
Rebounds: 19 (Jakobs 6, Hancock 4)

Winslow’s top scorer Haley Ward put the Raiders on top with a 3-pointer and fellow senior Madison Roy canned another trey with 1:25 left in the first for a 9-4 Winslow lead.

While the rim was unkind to the Lakers (1-for-10 from the field), Coach True’s club stayed in striking range by earning six trips to the foul line, but LR shooters converted just three shots and trailed 9-6 after one.

“They (Winslow) really controlled the pace. We just had an uphill battle getting into attack mode. I thought we played very reactive, rather than attacking the defense,” Coach True said. “To me, the major factor in this game was that every one of their kids was getting into the paint, getting to the middle of the floor and we were not. Our dribbling was more east-west, sideline to sideline, not forcing their wings to collapse and stop penetration, which would have given shooters on the perimeter little more time to get good, quality shots off. When you are dribbling east-west and kicking it out, the defensive player can react and close out with high hands, making it a much more difficult shot.”

Little improved for the blue and gold in quarter #2. Jakobs was whistled for her second foul with 6:34 left, forcing Coach True to put his senior scorer on the bench. Winslow made its move, going on a 9-0 run as sophomore Silver Clukey knocked down a 3-pointer and added a strong baseline drive for a score. Paige Trask swished a foul line jumper — her only points of the game — pushing the Winslow lead to 18-6.

LR finally ended its scoreless streak as good ball movement created an open look for freshman Shauna Hancock, who netted a 3-pointer with 3:26 left until halftime. True then sank a pair of foul shots, but the Lakers were shutout over the final three minutes as Winslow enjoyed a 20-11 lead at the break.

TIGHT COVERAGE, Chandler True looks for help. (Rivet Photo)

Coach True rolled the dice when he put Jakobs back into the game with 3 minutes left, hoping she would avoid picking up her third foul and provide the Lakers a spark.

“I had to make a decision with Lauren having two fouls, she played less than half of the second quarter. I ended up putting her back in at the three-minute mark because it was an 11-point game and I just felt like if they extended the lead, it was going to be insurmountable,” Coach True said.

Jakobs played smart and foul free, but LR was 1-of-11 from the floor in the second — 2-for-21 in the first half.

The good news, the deficit was only nine points.

“11 points in the first 16 minutes was disappointing, but that lead wasn’t something we couldn’t overcome,” Coach True said. “Obviously, they (LR players) were disappointed and some were discouraged. The spin was we hadn’t played like this all season. It’s only a nine-point game so we felt we could come back and make it a game.”

They needed someone to get hot.

No one did.

Shauna Hancock on defense

They needed some breaks and easy scores.

Winslow did turn the ball over six times, but nothing came easy for the Lakers. In fact, Winslow’s stingy defense held the Lakers scoreless for nearly four minutes until Chandler True made a smooth spin move in the lane, scored, was fouled and sank a foul shot.

While LR went scoreless over the next three minutes and saw frontliners Harriman and Jakobs each whistled for their third fouls, Winslow created some serious separation as Clukey connected on her second trey of the night and Weslee Littlefield converted a pair of foul shots to put the Raiders up 28-14.

True scored the Lakers’ lone field goal off a steal in the final minute.

“We couldn’t string together a couple of baskets consecutively. There was no momentum swing. If we scored, they scored or there would be a foul. There was no rhythm. We couldn’t get a turnover or two and turn them into points,” said Coach True, whose club still couldn’t find the range, going 2-for-10 from the field.

LR tried to jumpstart the offense by bringing more pressure, but Winslow handled the press fairly well.

One might think the Lakers had a good chance to rally if the Raiders took only one shot from the field in the fourth quarter.

Winslow was 1-for-1 from the floor, and fought off a Laker surge by wrapping up the Gold Ball with a 13-of-19 showing from the foul line as four players scored.

Lauren Jakobs looks to stop a Winslow drive.

LR was 7-of-15 on the night, while the Raiders went to the charity stripe 30 times, making 19 shots.

LR was also unable to match an incredibly deep Winslow bench as Coach Lindsey Withee frequently subbed four or even five players at a time throughout the night. And, Winslow never skipped a beat.

“Depth wise, Winslow was similar to Freeport, but Winslow has a lot of kids who can handle the basketball, get by people and get to the paint. That is something moving forward that we need to concentrate on if we are going to get back to this level. We need to find people who can be strong with the basketball and break defenses down. They did a really good job of that,” Coach True said. “They were very solid in every aspect of the game.”

As the final minutes ticked off the game clock and reality of falling short of their ultimate dream ending settled in, Chandler True was whistled for her fifth foul while chasing a Winslow player along the sideline.

Although disappointed — especially since True was not even close to Maeghan Bernard and the game official anticipated a foul to stop the clock — the LR senior gracefully headed to the bench. There, she received a hug from her dad, then came hugs from teammates.

Chandler True for two.

“Athletics highlight the challenges of life. We all have moments of adversity that we have to deal with. I thought she handled that situation well. She’s not stuck in that moment of time,” Coach True said.

As expected, there were plenty of tears as the final seconds wound down and Winslow players celebrated a well-deserved victory.

The Coach, however, couldn’t be prouder of his upstart Lakers.

“The biggest disappointment is that we are simply all done and we are not still together. This is a really special group of kids. A really special group of seniors who gave the coaches and this program everything that they had, and at the end of the day, that’s all we can ask for. I told the seniors, I am hoping this is not the end of our relationship, just the beginning,” he said. “Wins or loses shouldn’t define a team or any individual. It’s the journey and how they go about things each and every day, which is what I am so proud of about these kids.”

The next day, Laker Nation, also showed their appreciation and pride in their girls’ basketball team by showing up for a congratulatory get-together. They cheered the Lakers as the bus followed a fire truck escort into the back-parking lot, near the gym.

“The escort really picked them up. What a great lesson and message to the kids. Moments like that bring you back to how special this place is. It was really meaningful for all of us, especially for the girls. Greatly appreciated, and glad that the kids got that support, realizing win or lose, people were proud of them,” Coach True said.

All season, Coach True preached about The Process.

“We harped on two things. One, all we focus on is the process. We never talk about outcomes. We never talk about championships or games we have won. That’s not important to us. What is important is the process that every day we are there to make each other better. We did that,” he said. “Secondly, all of the adversity, the good times and bad times, it’s an opportunity to grow as young people. As a group, the last four or five weeks, it was just really special. I felt like finally all of the kids, 1 through 14, and the coaches were all on the same page. This was truly special.”

Win or lose, special, indeed.













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