Raider girls blitz Lakers 21-4 in third quarter to blow open close game

SAGE BOIVIN of Fryeburg Academy drives the baseline against Lake Region. (Rivet Photos)

SAGE BOIVIN of Fryeburg Academy drives the baseline against Lake Region. (Rivet Photos)

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

FRYEBURG — On a dry erase board, Coach Sean Watson listed the reasons the Raider girls’ basketball team has enjoyed success this season.

He also created a checklist.

“I felt if we did those things, we would be successful,” he said. “Again, we don’t talk about wins or losses, we talk about if we play well. Tonight, we played well.”

There was no need to mention the opponent. Although Coach Watson and his staff consistently treat each game as just the next contest on the schedule, Friday night was different.

The Lakers were in town.

Seniors, particularly, knew that Fryeburg Academy had many good games against their rival over the past decade, but rarely walked off the basketball court victors — just once in 12 years.

“We try to treat it the best we can every year that it is just another game. That’s the elephant that is in the room. You could tell. The kids were quiet in the locker room, and they’re never quiet before a game,” Coach Watson said. “I was really happy how they responded. They were a little nervous, a little tentative offensively early on in the first quarter, but fought through it — it is what we’re going to face in the tournament — that tournament-like atmosphere with some jitters.”

Behind an aggressive defense that allowed few open outside looks all night and held Lake Region’s leading scorer without a field goal, the Raiders exploded for a 21-4 run in the third quarter to run away with a 57-32 victory at Wadsworth Arena.

KRISTEN HUNTRESS, Lake Region's leading scorer, drew a lot of defensive attention and was held without a field goal. Guarding here are Julia Quinn (left) and Mackenzie Buzzell.

KRISTEN HUNTRESS, Lake Region's leading scorer, drew a lot of defensive attention and was held without a field goal. Guarding here are Julia Quinn (left) and Mackenzie Buzzell.

FA junior Mackenzie Buzzell has emerged as a defensive stopper this season, often shutting down the opponent’s top scorer. With some defensive help at times, Buzzell was LR’s Kristen Huntress’ shadow, limiting her to just seven points from the foul line and zero field goals. Huntress entered the contest averaging 17.1 points per game, but had trouble shaking free tight coverage all night, going 0-for-10 from the field.

“I scouted Lake Region a couple of times, and when I was on the floor, I didn’t realize how fast Kristen Huntress is. She is a fast, dynamic player. She’s much more than just a shooter. It took all of Mackenzie’s effort to stay with her. We communicated pretty well to help Mackenzie with her,” Coach Watson said. “We had a tendency to foul a lot tonight, but it is better than giving up the easy one.”

Nothing came easy for the Laker offense, especially in the second half when shooters went a combined 1-of-13 and finished 6-of-29 from the field and 2-of-12 from the 3-point arc.

“They are fantastic shooters so we tried to extend our defense out. There were a few times we doubled down, which we really didn’t want to do, and gave them a few good looks…but not many,” Coach Watson said.

The Raiders started quick as Lexi L’Heureux-Carland (12 points, 7 rebounds) beat LR coverage to the rim for two lay-ups, while Julia Quinn (10 points, 3 assists, 3 steals) knocked down a 3-poiner for a 7-2 FA lead.

After going four minutes without a hoop, the Laker offense finally got on track when Chandler True (8 points, 3 rebounds) drained a 3-pointer. With Fryeburg extending its defense, the Lakers looked to work the paint with Melody Millett (4 points, 5 rebounds) scoring 3 points as the Raider lead fell to 11-9 after one quarter.

NICOLE BENNETT of Fryeburg Academy blocks a shot attempt by Lake Region's Chandler True.

NICOLE BENNETT of Fryeburg Academy blocks a shot attempt by Lake Region's Chandler True.

FA showed it could play the deep ball game as Quinn, Buzzell (9 points, 5 rebounds) and Kaylin Delaney (her trey coming as the final seconds ticked off the clock) each connected on 3-pointers in the second quarter to give Fryeburg a 23-19 lead at the half.

Lake Region, meanwhile, attacked the inside with two drives rewarded with trips to the foul line (LR made 3-of-4 foul shots) and Kaylyn Jordan and Spencer True scoring layups.

Fryeburg dominated the third quarter at both ends of the court and put the game away with a 21-4 run.

Defensively, the Raiders didn’t allow a field goal as the Lakers were 4-of-8 from the foul line.

Offensively, FA used both precision passing and fastbreaks to record their best eight minutes of the season as six different players scored.

Two LR turnovers sparked the uprising as Buzzell and L’Heureux-Carland each scored easy buckets. Then, McKenna Gerchman scored on a strong baseline drive and was fouled. Although she missed the foul shot, Nicole Bennett (6 points, 6 rebounds) collected the rebound and scored. Bennett was very aggressive in the paint, recording six rebounds, of which four were key offensive boards leading to scores. Just as she ended the half with a big bucket, Delaney (8 points) put an exclamation point on the third quarter with a fastbreak score and a free throw.

“I was shocked to find out it was 21-4 at the end of three. A lot of that was triggered by our defense. It isn’t always about getting turnovers. If you get a long rebound off a shot, which we did, it helps us get into our uptempo game. As long as you play good defense, you can stay in any game,” Coach Watson said. “We really try to emphasize you don’t have to make the perfect pass. We give kids permission to gamble in the full court, throwing the ball ahead. If it goes out of bounds, it’s a stoppage in play and we get to defend them the entire court. Make the extra pass if it is the right pass. Sometimes, the extra pass isn’t the right pass, but it was tonight.”

LAUREN JAKOBS of Lake Region is fouled going to the hoop. FA defenders included (left) Mackenzie Buzzell and Katherine Parker.

LAUREN JAKOBS of Lake Region is fouled going to the hoop. FA defenders included (left) Mackenzie Buzzell, Lexi L'Heureux-Carland and Katherine Parker.

And when they got bumped going to the hoop, the Raiders finished plays — something they’ve worked on in practice.

“Coach Dutton and Coach Eccleston beat them up pretty good with the football tackling dummies. We’ve spent time each day with the guards and forwards getting contact and making shots. We tell them just go up and absorb the hit and make the shot,” Coach Watson said.

Despite a 44-23 lead, the Raiders never took their foot off the gas. They went 5-for-6 from the foul line (9-of-13 for the game) — an improvement over some recent games — and rolled to a 13-9 period.

Again, the Lakers were held to an early field goal by Chandler True (team-high 8 points), but were shut out the rest of the period, settling for 10 trips to the foul line, making 7 shots (18-of-29 for the game).

“It’s been a while since we’ve had success against them. I was happy for the kids. The hard work, determination paid off,” Coach Watson said. “I told the kids that is the fun thing about athletics. Just because you are the hardest working team and just because you’re the most talented doesn’t always mean you’re going to win. I was happy to see that we worked hard against an evenly matched team and it worked out for us.”

TUESDAY RECAPS

York 55, Raiders 40: In a showdown between the top two teams in Class A South, the Wildcats remained undefeated as Chloe Smedley scored 10 of her 18 points during a 21-9 third quarter run to lead York to victory.

The Cats (17-0) swept the season series, and ruined FA’s Senior Night. It was a close first half with the teams tied at 11 and then the Cats opening a four-point lead at the half.

Julia Quinn led the Raiders (14-3) with a game-high 19 points, including four 3-pointers. Mackenzie Buzzell and Lexi L’Heureux-Carland each netted 6 points, while Sage Boivin had 4, McKenna Gerchman 3 and Nicole Bennett 2.

The loss dropped the Raiders (14-3, TPI 131.9753) to third place in Class A South, behind the Cats and Greely (14-3, TPI 137.222).

The Raiders close out the regular season tonight at Cape Elizabeth. Game time is 6:30 p.m.

“Every game for us is quality competition. They’re all big games. We just want to be playing well. I know parents and players don’t believe me when I say I am not concerned with wins or losses right now. Are we playing well? You can play poorly and win, and play well and lose. I hope the kids play their best basketball and stay healthy entering the tournament,” Coach Watson said.

UPDATE: The Raiders defeated Cape Elizabeth 40-27, and finished #3 in the Heal Ratings. The Raiders (15-3) will meet #6 Leavitt (9-9) in the Class A South quarterfinals.

Lakers 42, Yarmouth 36: Despite their struggles throughout the season, Coach Paul True thought his Lakers were decent free throw shooters.

They proved it Tuesday.

Melody Millett connected on 6-of-8 tries and the team was 14-of-18 in the fourth quarter, rallying to beat the Clippers.

“We were having trouble with our perimeter game, so we had to force the issue, a bit,” Coach True said. “We’ve talked all season about the importance of free throw shooting. Tonight, the girls stepped up and made them count.”

It was a difference maker. The Lakers were 20-of-28 from the stripe, while the Clips (8-9) were just 2-of-6 from the line down the stretch, 2-of-8 for the game.

Lake Region took a 10-6 first quarter lead, forcing 7 turnovers, including a steal by Kristen Huntress (11 points, 5 steals) resulting in a fastbreak layup.

But, Yarmouth took control of the boards with Alison Clark (12 rebounds, 12 points) and Claire Brady giving the Clips second shot chances resulting in a 20-15 lead. LR closed the gap when Spencer True dished the ball inside to Lauren Jakobs (13 points, 11 rebounds), whose quick flick off the glass scored before the halftime buzzer.

Millett (game-high 14 points, 5 rebounds) pulled the Lakers even at the 5:30 mark of the third quarter, sinking a pair of foul shots after a strong second effort off an offensive rebound, along with a 3-pointer.

LR trailed 28-26 entering the fourth. Yarmouth pushed the lead to five on a Cory Langenbach (8 points, 5 assists) pull-up jumper.

With 1:56 left and down a point, the Lakers saw a bucket waived off due to a travel call. But, the Laker defense quickly forced a turnover and Jakobs converted a pair of foul shots to put LR up 37-36. Chandler True pulled down a big defensive board, was fouled and made a foul shot. Another Clipper turnover forced Yarmouth to foul Huntress, who went 4-for-4 from the line in the final 20 seconds to nail down the victory.

Other LR scorers were Brooke Harriman 2, Spencer True 1 and Chandler True 1. LR was just 12-of-59 from the field, but stayed in the game because of free throw shooting and 11 steals.

The victory pushed the Lakers (13-4, TPI 109.444) into third place in Class B South. The Lakers close out the regular season on the road against Freeport tonight, 5:30 p.m. It appears the final 2, 3 and 4 spots in the Heals won’t be decided until the final game. Lincoln Academy is #2 at 15-2, TPI 110.7407 and Gray-New Gloucester is #4 at 12-4, TPI 108.1481.

UPDATE: With Thursday's win over Freeport, the Laker girls nailed down the Number 3 seed and will meet Number 6 Yarmouth (9-9) in the Class B South quarterfinals at the Portland Expo.

 

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