Practice led to perfect showing at the foul line as Lakers hold off Waynflete

BRANDON PALMER of Lake Region looks to disrupt a Waynflete player's shot.

BRANDON PALMER of Lake Region looks to disrupt a Waynflete player's shot.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

Every morning, Lake Region boys basketball players drag themselves out of bed early and start shooting foul shots at 7 a.m.

"We've been getting up early and getting after it all year. They are all here and complaining about it, but I am sure they don't mind it right now," Coach John Mayo said.

Jack Lesure realized how the extra work can pay off.

The senior guard sank six straight foul shots in the fourth quarter as the Lakers held off a late Waynflete charge to nail down a 51-43 victory over the Flyers last Thursday night at Nutting Gym.

Lesure was 9-for-9 and scored a team-high 15 points and collected 11 rebounds as the Lakers handed the Class C Flyers just their second loss of the season. The win moved the Lakers to the top of the Class B Heals with their 11th victory.

"We had to do that tonight (be perfect at the foul line). They are a good, strong team. If you keep missing shots, they are going to come right back at you. As you saw, they kept making runs. Fortunately, we made all our free throws tonight — 15 for 15 — and we needed every one of them. If we missed half of those, it would have been a different ballgame. They're right back in it," Coach Mayo said.

Showing good patience and making pinpoint passes, the Lakers opened up a 10-point lead to start the final quarter as Marcus DeVoe canned a 3-pointer. But, the Lakers enabled the Flyers to get back into the game with some rushed long-range shots that were off the mark. Waynflete's 6-foot-4 forward Yai Deng sank a baseline shot and converted a free throw with 3:26 left to pull the Flyers to within 41-36.

"It's tough for us to go fast all the time and then slow down and not shoot the basketball. We reminded them of the time left and told them that if they had a wide open layup, fine, we'll take that any time. It's tough for us to sit on the ball, it's not a normal thing for us to do up to this point," Coach Mayo said.

LR certainly showed good execution and focus down the stretch, making four consecutive trips to the foul line with Lesure and Nate Smith (12 points) sealing the win at the charity stripe.

The Lakers jumped out to a 7-0 lead as Lesure snagged an offensive rebound, scored and added a foul shot. But, after Brandon Palmer and Nick Wandishin each netted hoops, the Lakers went scoreless over a 2:30 stretch, and finished the quarter just 4-of-16. The Flyers recovered from a shaky start to close the quarter with six points to trail by just three after one quarter.

The second frame was a see-saw battle. LR bolted to a 19-8 lead off some unselfish passing as guard Tyler Walker dished to power forward Alex Langadas (10 poins) for two inside hoops, and Lesure converted a steal into a fastbreak bucket.

The final 4 minutes belonged to the Flyers. Guard Will Nelligan dropped a 3-pointer to start a 12-4 run as Milo Belleau scored 9 of his game-high 17 points, including a trey that cut the Laker lead to just one.

Lesure scored in the closing seconds to give the Lakers a 23-20 lead at intermission.

Waynflete closed to within 28-26 off a Belleau jumper with 3:02 left in the third when the Lakers ratcheted up their defense, resulting in 4-of-11 shooting by the Flyers.

Meanwhile, DeVoe and Smith were on target from behind the arc. Given clean looks at the hoop, DeVoe started the quarter with a trey from the left side while Smith knocked down back-to-back 3-pointers to trigger a 7-2 run to close the quarter.

"We started fast, and they adjusted. They figured out how to slow us down. Because it was such an intense game, we really needed to play great half-court defense. Tonight, we weren't getting much out of our full-court defense — we got a couple of turnovers early — so, we're going to dig down in the halfcourt," Coach Mayo said. "Come playoff time, we will want to play fast, but we also need to be diverse because of the defenses we'll face. Tonight was a great lesson in patience — don't turn the ball over and work to get a great look."

While the Lakers have the firepower to score into the 80s, how far this club will go will depend on their ability to make big stops when the game is on the line, as they did against the Flyers.

"Defense is something we have been harping on since Day One. Get good stops and then go. Great defenses win championships. We keep talking about keeping teams under 50 (points). If you can do that, you have a great opportunity to win ball games," Coach Mayo said. "I was nervous coming in today. They have been winning games, including a big win over Falmouth, so we knew they would be coming in here on a high. They have a very good coach, and they're disciplined. This was a big win."

Stat Lines

LR scorers: Marcus DeVoe 8, Nick Wandishin 4, Brandon Palmer 2.

Turnovers: LR 9, WNF 14

Field Goals: LR 15-of-48, WNF 18-of-43

Free Throws: LR 15-15, WNF 4-9

Rebounds: LR 25, WNF 25

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