No room for error now

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Most coaches hope their team is riding a wave of momentum into the playoffs. A team getting “hot” at the right time can be more dangerous than a more talented club.

Paul True simply hopes his team is healthy so the Lakers can return to the form that earned them the #1 seed in Class B West.

“We’re not where we would like to be (health wise), but I fully anticipate we will have our whole roster available when the tournament begins,” Coach True said.

Lake Region enters the tourney with a 3-2 mark over the final five games after winning their first 13 games. One positive sign was the return of sophomore center Tiana-Jo Carter, who missed a game due to a knee injury, but returned last Friday night against Gray-New Gloucester — a 35-26 Laker victory.

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Class B West Playoffs

Quarterfinal

• #1 Lake Region (16-2) vs. #8 Yarmouth (8-10) or #9 Falmouth (9-9)

• Tuesday, Feb. 21, 8:30 p.m.

• Portland Expo

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True hopes to receive more good news regarding senior guard Allison Clark, who missed a couple of games with a hip and knee troubles. Clark also returned for a cameo appearance against the Patriots. Both players will be key to the Lakers’ tourney fortunes.

Carter has been a dominant presence in the middle, recording 33 blocked shots, 174 defensive rebounds and 129 offensive boards (303 total rebounds). When teams doubled her in the paint, Carter also showed her ability to find an open teammate, recording 16 assists.

Without Carter in the line-up, the Lakers struggled offensively against Fryeburg. LR also had trouble scoring in the season finale, managing double digits in just one of the four quarters against the Patriots with Carter logging just 3 points.

Clark’s absence was felt in the loss to Greely. With the Rangers packing the inside, LR struggled from the perimeter. Clark has excellent 3-point range, finishing second on the club with 18 treys for the season. Senior Abby Craffey led the team with 24, while junior point guard Sydney Hancock knocked down 14.

For the Lakers to get back on track and be successful in their drive to win the West, Coach True said his team must play with confidence, control the backboard at both ends of the floor, and make good decisions — scoring some easy hoops in transition.

Pressure defense will continue to be the Lakers’ calling card. Sydney Hancock is the trigger in everything the Lakers do. She led the team in steals with 48 and assists with 54. Syd also collected 41 rebounds. Pressure comes from all five spots, as seen by steals recorded this season — Rachel Wandishin 30, Carter 24, Sarah Hancock 17, Craffey 16, Winslow 11 and Savannah DeVoe 10.

The top-seeded Lakers will play either #8 Yarmouth or #9 Falmouth this coming Tuesday. How does Coach True size up the Clippers and Yachtsmen?

• On Yarmouth, “They will test us inside the paint because of the play of Morgan Cahill, who is one of the best big players in our league,” Coach True said. “Their guards are less experienced, but they certainly make up for it by their size inside.”

Cahill went over the 1,000-point mark for her career this season. The Lakers defeated Yarmouth in Game 2 in easy fashion, 67-25. The LR defense prevented the Clippers from reaching double digits in any quarter, and Carter won the center battle with 14 points to Cahill’s 10. The Clips’ other big is Sean Cahill, who scored 9 points in that early season loss. LR forward Kelsey Winslow scored 12 points, while Abby Craffey led all Laker scorers with 15 points, including two 3-pointers.

Yarmouth enters the tourney 6-4 over their final 10 games. A year ago, the Clippers won just once, so whether they advance to the Expo or fall in the prelim, 2011-12 will be graded as a big turnaround season.

• On Falmouth, Coach True sees a Yachtsmen group that is “well-balanced” and “disciplined.”

“You can’t focus on just one or two players,” Coach True said.

The Lakers won both meetings with Falmouth, but neither was easy. The Lakers won in overtime 51-46 in Game 11 at Falmouth behind Carter’s 22 points, then notched a 56-34 win in Game 15 as Winslow scored 15 points and Sydney Hancock 11. Coach True points out that the second victory came against a Falmouth club playing without a top weapon, Ally Hickey, who was out due to illness. Hickey scored 16 points in the first meeting.

Falmouth enters the tourney 4-6 in their last 10 games.

Outlook: The Lakers must rediscover their groove in the quarterfinals, not only to advance to the next round, but to be primed for an expected meeting with high-scoring, fourth-ranked Leavitt (16-2).

All-Conference: Selected to the Western Maine All-Conference squad were: Tiana-Jo Carter, first team; Sydney Hancock, second team; Kelsey Winslow, third team.

Winning finale: Kelsey Winslow closed out the regular season with a 10-point night as the Lakers beat Gray-New Gloucester 35-26.

Neither club fell into an offensive rhythm in the first half as the Lakers led 9-3 and 15-8 at halftime. LR outscored the Patriots (9-9) 20-18 in the second half.

Sydney Hancock tossed in 9 points, while Sarah Hancock and Rachel Wandishin each netted 4 points. Other scorers were: Carter 3, DeVoe 2, Shanon VanLoan 2 and Jordan Turner 1.

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