Quarter hoops: Lakers net late free throws to hold off Phoenix

OUT ON THE SHOOTER — Lake Region's Quinn Piland elevates to try to block Spruce Mountain's Tyler Kachnovich's shot during Saturday's quarterfinal held at the Portland Expo.  CLASS B WEST SEMIFINALS #4 Lake Region (14-5) vs. #1 Yarmouth 16-3) Tonight, Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m. Cross Insurance Arena, Portland What to look for: The Lakers will look to rebound from a poor showing at Yarmouth at the tail end of the regular season, losing to the Clippers 87-55. The Clippers made their first eight shots in that game and sank 11 3-pointers. Adam LaBrie and Jordan Brown continue to heat it up from behind the arc. LaBrie scored 27 points in the Clippers’ quarterfinal win over Gray-New Gloucester, 79-48. He drained six 3-pointers. Brown, meanwhile, chucked in 19 points, including five 3-pointers as the Clips torched the Patriot defense for 14 3-pointers. Coach’s take: Lake Region Coach J.P. Yorkey will look for his squad to be more competitive against Yarmouth this time around. “As soon as our game was over at Yarmouth, we all felt like we wanted to play them again. We know we can do better. We’ll need to defend much, much better, which we can. They caught us off guard in the first half. We saw them live in preseason and I watched two of their games before we played them. They did not shoot like that,” Coach Yorkey said. “Now, they did it again in the second half of their quarterfinal game against G-NG. We certainly know what they can do and we will be ready for them.” The winner advances to the Class B West Final Saturday at the Cross Insurance Arena at 3:45 p.m. against the winner of the Cape Elizabeth/Lincoln Academy game.

OUT ON THE SHOOTER — Lake Region's Quinn Piland elevates to try to block Spruce Mountain's Tyler Kachnovich's shot during Saturday's quarterfinal held at the Portland Expo. (Rivet Photo)
CLASS B WEST SEMIFINALS
#4 Lake Region (14-5) vs. #1 Yarmouth 16-3)
Tonight, Feb. 19 at 8:30 p.m.
Cross Insurance Arena, Portland
What to look for: The Lakers will look to rebound from a poor showing at Yarmouth at the tail end of the regular season, losing to the Clippers 87-55. The Clippers made their first eight shots in that game and sank 11 3-pointers.
Adam LaBrie and Jordan Brown continue to heat it up from behind the arc. LaBrie scored 27 points in the Clippers’ quarterfinal win over Gray-New Gloucester, 79-48. He drained six 3-pointers. Brown, meanwhile, chucked in 19 points, including five 3-pointers as the Clips torched the Patriot defense for 14 3-pointers.
Coach’s take: Lake Region Coach J.P. Yorkey will look for his squad to be more competitive against Yarmouth this time around.
“As soon as our game was over at Yarmouth, we all felt like we wanted to play them again. We know we can do better. We’ll need to defend much, much better, which we can. They caught us off guard in the first half. We saw them live in preseason and I watched two of their games before we played them. They did not shoot like that,” Coach Yorkey said. “Now, they did it again in the second half of their quarterfinal game against G-NG. We certainly know what they can do and we will be ready for them.”
The winner advances to the Class B West Final Saturday at the Cross Insurance Arena at 3:45 p.m. against the winner of the Cape Elizabeth/Lincoln Academy game.

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — As Jackson Lesure stood at the foul line and was staring toward the basket with 7.1 seconds left on the clock, his dad yelled out, “We need just 1 — Ice.”

Acting as though ice was running through his veins, the Laker junior guard coolly made both of his foul shots.

Fourth-ranked Lake Region (14-5) held on to down fifth-ranked Spruce Mountain (11-8) 41-37 in Saturday’s Class B West quarterfinals at the Portland Expo.

Knowing nothing is settled until the final buzzer sounds — after last year’s triple overtime loss to Morse on the same court — Lake Region finally closed out the Phoenix when an inbounds pass was thrown somewhat behind Spruce’s top scorer, Peter Theriault (game-high 19 points), who lost control of the ball. LR’s Nate Smith was able to corral the turnover, and was immediately fouled by Theriault, his fifth personal.

With 5.4 seconds, Smith missed the first, but made the crucial second shot to prevent any last second Phoenix heroics.

“It certainly would have been nice to have pulled away and not have to close out a tight game like that, but that is a senior-laden Spruce team and those seniors weren’t going down without a fight,” said Lake Region Head Coach J.P. Yorkey.

On Lesure’s made foul shots with the game on the line, Coach Yorkey added, “Jack is a very well-rounded player and has worked hard to improve his shooting overall including his free throws. He had a game at the Expo vs. Brunswick in December where he was 16 for 16 or 17.”

Lake Region certainly looked comfortable playing at the Expo in the early going, scoring the game’s first eight points, including a 3-pointer by Nick Hall (13 points, 10 rebounds). Meanwhile, Spruce struggled at both ends of the court, turning the ball over seven times while shooting 1-of-11 to open the game. Spruce finally broke the ice with 1:16 left on an inside hoop.

Following a quick push down the court, Smith threaded a pass inside to Alex Langadas, who converted the shot and sank a free throw to put the Lakers up 11-3 after a quarter.

Spruce Mountain likes to gamble. Looking to face tougher in-season competition to prepare for the rugged Class B West playoffs, the Phoenix left the comfortable confines of the Mountain Valley Conference and moved to the Kennebec Valley Conference this season.

It seemingly worked.

The Phoenix scratched its way back into the game by forcing nine Laker turnovers with an aggressive, gambling defense.

“Their primary defense is a match-up zone and we devoted a good amount of time preparing for it. I did see three of their games on video, so that helped. They did have a wrinkle in their defense that I don’t think they’ve done before. It did throw us off for a bit,” Coach Yorkey said.

Lake Region managed just nine points on 3-of-8 shooting from the floor and 3-of-4 from the foul line.

Meanwhile, Theriault heated up, scoring on a one-handed flip shot in the lane and a pull-up jumper with 2:33 closed the gap to 18-13. After Deonte Ring netted two foul shots to make it an 18-15 game, the Lakers finished the half on a positive note as Lesure beat Spruce’s pressure and found Hall for a layup for a 20-15 halftime lead.

The Lakers settled down in the third, and took control of the game.

After Theriault knocked down a trey to pull the Phoenix to 22-19, Spruce would go scoreless over the final 4:21 of the quarter, shooting 1-for-8 from the floor. LR went on a 6-0 run as Nick Wandishin found Smith inside for an easy two, Lesure converted a fastbreak chance into a layup, and Smith swished a pull-up jumper after Hall sliced inside the Spruce defense on a missed foul shot attempt to secure an offensive rebound.

It appeared the Lakers were ready to slam the door shut on the Phoenix when Hall scored off an offensive rebound to make it a 10-point game with 5:23 left.

But, the Phoenix would rise once more. And Theriault was the triggerman. The senior guard. He would score 10 of his team’s 12 points over the final four minutes to put LR fans on the edge of their seats.

LR had tried to salt the game away by slowing the offense down and simply work the perimeter. But, LR lost some offensive rhythm, and had just a Quinn Piland layup and a Smith free throw during the Spruce rally.

Up 38-37 after a Theriault jumper with 23.5 seconds left, the Lakers missed three straight foul shots.

Phoenix sophomore Noah Preble fired up a 3-pointer from the corner that missed the mark.

Lesure, however, was right on target from the charity stripe with all kinds of pressure on his shoulders.

Just as they had done in a tight regular season finale against York, Lesure and Smith delivered in the clutch.

Ultimately, the difference was the Lakers displayed better offensive scoring balance and controlled the backboard (31-24).

“I think in our opening run, we looked like us at our best defensively, forcing turnovers and making things happened,” Coach Yorkey said. “And, you know that they had prepped for our defense, but they still struggled quite a bit for three quarters.”

Stat Lines

Lakers: Nick Hall 13, Alex Langadas 3, Jackson Lesure 8, Brandon Palmer 2, Quinn Piland 5, Nate Smith 10.

Spruce: Austin Darling 2, Deonte Ring 9, Peter Theriault 19, Anthony York 7.

Turnovers: LR 21, SM 15

FT: LR 12-of-21, SM 8-of-13

FG: LR 13-of-33, SM 13-of-43

Rebounds: LR 31, SM 24

LR top rebounders: Hall 10, Piland 8, Lesure 8.

 

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