Place scores eight 3-pointers

By Wayne E. Rivet
Staff Writer

Danny Place now knows what is feels like to be in a shooter’s “zone.”

Be it at the top of the key or in either corner, Place swished eight 3-pointers and scored a career-best 36 points to lead Lake Region to a 72-46 romp over

Freeport at Nutting Gymnasium last Friday night.

To say the senior Laker guard was in a very good “place” would be an understatement. Most of the long-range bombs barely moved the netting.

“I’ve never shot that well. My first couple of shots were awful, but Coach (Yorkey) kept telling me to keep shooting. He’s been my biggest supporter. When they started to go, I started to really feel confident,” Place said.

Just as surprising was Freeport’s decision not to give Place added attention or assign the team’s top defensive player to hound him for the final 16 minutes.

“I thought I would see someone guarding me, but I kept getting open and my teammates did a great job getting me the ball,” Place said.

Lake Region varsity coach J.P. Yorkey was not surprised that Place had an electric shooting night.

“Danny is a great high school basketball player. When we came in here, we saw right away that there was no reason he couldn’t score 20 points per game. He can shoot the ball and put the ball on the floor and go to the hole. He can draw fouls and make free throws. There’s no reason he can’t do something like that every night,” Coach Yorkey said. “He was definitely hot tonight, but it really didn’t surprise us (the coaching staff). It was great for Danny’s confidence.”

Coach Yorkey was also quick to praise senior point guard Kevin Gilson (7 points, 8 assists) for his unselfish play. Routinely, Gilson drove the lane and kicked the ball out to Place out on the perimeter for wide open looks at the hoop. The ball was delivered on time and right where it had to be to allow Place to fire in rhythm.

“Kevin was great getting the ball to Danny. Everybody’s game plan is keeping Kevin out of the lane and to force him to give the ball up. Even after Danny made a few shots, they (Freeport) were still pinching into the lane,” Coach Yorkey said.

Junior center Alex Hartford also had a strong evening, scoring 17 points while hauling down 17 rebounds.

“We’ve been challenging Alex to play tougher defense. With his 17 rebounds tonight, that is certainly a big step in the right direction. He also did a lot of things better off the ball than he has been doing. He stayed out of foul trouble, which is key,” Coach Yorkey said.

Other LR scorers were: Josh Van Eeuwen 5, Mike Triglione 4, Alex Hall 2 and Tristan Lacey 1. Coach Yorkey pointed out the strong play of his reserves, especially Hall, which helped the Lakers keep their double-digit advantage all evening.

“Alex’s contributions stand out to us (coaches). He plays so hard. When the ball is on the floor, he’s on the floor. He hasn’t played since his freshman year, but he brings a lot to this team. And, he has a great attitude. Great locker room guy, too,” he said.

The Lakers started quick in this one as Hartford scored the club’s first 6 points, and Place hit his stride by sinking three straight 3-pointers to give LR a 16-5 lead. Place notched his 11th point of the game by picking off an errant Freeport pass and racing the other way for a lay-up.

Up 20-8 after one, the Lakers kept their foot on the gas pedal. Hartford scored 7 points in the quarter, including a trey from the corner and a sweeping drive across the lane, which he seemed to hang in the air long enough to glide past two defenders before releasing a touch shot. Place added one 3-pointer and canned two foul shots in the closing seconds to give the Lakers a comfortable 36-19 advantage.

Freeport’s Chandler Birmingham (15 points) was the offense in the second quarter, connecting on two 3-pointers along with two other jumpers.

The Laker lead ballooned to 22 in the third quarter as Place sank 3-of-4 from the foul line and drilled another trey with 3:54 to go. Place stayed hot in the fourth, sinking three more 3-pointers, scoring 13 points in the quarter as the Lakers closed out the game with a 22-13 run.

Treys proved contagious as reserve forward Josh Van Eeuwen also recorded a 3-ball in the closing seconds, making it an even 10 for the night.

While picking up a win is always good, Coach Yorkey liked that the victory came before the home fans. So far this season, the Lakers have been road warriors.

“We have not played much at home, at all. Most of our preseason and (Christmas) tournament games have been on the road. We played well at the Expo. We had a great defensive game against Windham, and we liked the progress we had made. We felt we weren’t focused against Gray. So the emphasis tonight was to be focused and be ready,” Coach Yorkey said. “We did that for four quarters. We’re doing a better job maintaining composure in face of adversity. We have a number of players that haven’t played that much before this year. We’re making progress.”

For Freeport (0-7), Josh Weirich fired in 7 points and Mitch Loeman 6.

Stat lines: The Lakers won the two key stat lines, out rebounding the Falcons 35-25 while committing 16 turnovers (six in the final quarter) to Freeport’s 24. Free throw: Lakers 8-of-15, Freeport 9-of-20.

LR top rebounders: Josh Van Eeuwen 5, Kevin Gilson 4, Alex Hall 4.

Heal Watch. At 2-5, the Lakers are ranked 14th in the Heal Ratings released Monday.

Up next: Note this scheduling change! The Lakers’ game against Yarmouth, originally scheduled for this Thursday, Jan. 13 has been moved to Tuesday, Jan. 18 at 7 p.m. at LRHS. So, the Lakers next game is this Saturday at Fryeburg Academy. Game time is 7 p.m.

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