Semis: Laker girls take down top-ranked, defending champs Gray-NG

Lauren Jakobs

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

PORTLAND — Like a good chess player, Paul True knew exactly how Gray-New Gloucester planned to attack his basketball team.

He had seen the script many times.

The top-ranked Patriots revolved around the strong inside game of Jordan Grant and the shooting of guard Brianna Jordan.

How did True and his Lakers plan to stop the dynamic duo and end G-NG’s two-year streak of ending the blue and gold’s playoff march?

“Our approach was two pronged. One, we really wanted to take away their strength. I thought it was Grant inside. So, we played a couple of different defenses to give Lauren (Jakobs) some help on her. We really deepened our triangles to provide a lot of help. Obviously, we did a lot of doubling down on the post, which proved to be effective,” Coach True said. “Two, before each game, we go through what we feel will be the keys to the game. The last two weeks, our top focal point has been no foolish fouls. I thought our kids did a really good job at not reaching and creating foul situations.”

Aisley Sturk

The Lakers turned in another lockdown defensive effort last Thursday, limiting the Patriots to just 12-of-42 shooting from the field to notch a 34-31 win at the Cross Insurance Center in Portland over the defending Class B champs to advance to South championship game.

This one was tight throughout, and proved Coach True’s mantra — “every possession counts” — to be dead on.

No bigger example were heads-up plays by senior guard Chandler True.

Just before the half (1.4 seconds left), she caught the Patriots sleeping by intercepting an inbounds pass and drawing a foul. She converted both foul shots as the Lakers went to the locker room up 14-9.

“It was huge. So magnify that a little bit, we scored five points in the last 30 seconds. It was a 3-2 quarter, or could have been a 10-9 type of game, but instead we get Shauna scoring off an aggressive move to the basket and Chandler made a heads-up play on an inbounds play, getting fouled and making some foul shots. A month ago, she did the same thing at our gym, where she hung around to see if they would recognize her. It was a huge stretch in that game,” Coach True said.

Chandler True with the block.

With 1:34 left and the Lakers up 28-22, the Patriots came out of a timeout and had the ball stolen with True converting.

That score proved to be the separation the Lakers needed to put away the Patriots. True calmly sank a pair of foul shots with 53.9 seconds on the clock, and freshman Shauna Hancock showed great poise for a rookie by sealing the deal with a pair of foul shots with 16.9 ticks left.

“All tournament long, Shauna made some big free throws for us. She stepped up in big moments. I’m comfortable with having her at the line at those moments, and she stepped up like I know she is capable of doing,” Coach True said.

G-NG broke the 30-point mark when Chelsea Davis’ heave behind the arc scored at the buzzer.

Coach True felt for the second straight tourney appearance, his Lakers pieced together the perfect outing — they contested every shot, keeping their hands held high; they gave up few second chance shots; they were patient and searched out the best scoring opportunity; and, they showed total faith in each other, especially when the moment got big.

“Every possession mattered. We wanted to continue to just focus on the process of what we were doing. To the kids’ credit, they stayed true to it,” Coach True said. “I thought our ball movement was really good. It is really difficult to attack a set defense. If you get good ball movement, you find people who might be just a little out of place or the rotation is slow, and I thought Lauren  and Chandler took advantage of those opportunities to drive the ball to the basket.”

Slow pace early

Rachel Shanks

The first eight minutes belonged to the #22s.

LR senior Lauren Jakobs helped settle down her team by taking the ball strong to the hoop, scoring all six points.

Meanwhile, Jordan Grant was busy around the rim with an aggressive take and a put back of her own miss, The Patriots moved ahead 5-2 on a Brianna Jordan foul shot and an Eliza Hotham straightaway jumper.

“We had preferred that the game get up and down the floor a little bit more. The fact of the matter is you have two programs that know each other so well. The kids know each other so well. It really was valuing every possession and trying to get the best shot possible,” Coach True said. “We just couldn’t get the game going up and down the way we like.”

A good sign was the Lakers working hard inside and hauling away five offensive rebounds while equaling the Patriots with 11 boards apiece in the first half.

LR turned the tide in the second quarter as True showed good court vision and delivered a perfect pass to junior forward Brooke Harriman for a layup. Jakobs turned a GNG turnover into a fastbreak chance for True with 3:22 left until halftime, giving the Lakers its first lead, 10-9. It stretched to 14-9 at the break.

Lauren Jakobs

That lead was driven by the Laker defense. It held GNG to just 2 points in the second period, and limited the Patriots to just 4-of-16 shooting in the half, 25%. LR played stingy defense, without fouling. The Pats went to the foul line just four times, making a shot.

Matching the runs

Every championship caliber team makes a run at some point in the game.

Could the Lakers respond when the Patriots found a rhythm?

Yes, they did.

The Patriots opened the third with two scores, making it 14-13. LR kept the lead when Jakobs slipped a pass to Harriman for a bucket. Grant netted a pair of foul shots, but Jakobs came right back and played a little old school hoops with a nifty hook shot.

A True steal and a Hancock score gave LR a 22-15 edge, but GNG tightened the contest as Jordan drove the baseline, scored and added a foul shot. LR 22, GNG 18.

Like a tennis match, every time GNG scored in the final quarter, the Lakers returned fire and matched. After Madysen West knocked down a 3-pointer as the LR defense collapsed on Grant in the lane, the Lakers pushed the ball quickly up the court and Harriman scored on a fastbreak.

Shauna Hancock

They also played smart. Nothing rushed, and LR took what the Patriots gave them.

“Our focus changed a little bit, to Gray’s credit, because they did a great job of taking away our perimeter looks. Obviously after the Oak Hill game, they were really concentrating on locking down on our 3-point shooters (LR went 0-for-10). So, it opened things up for Brooke and Lauren inside,” Coach True said. “We made a concerted effort, especially in the second half, to get the ball inside. The threat of the 3 was a significant factor.”

Winning basketball means shining in all phases of the game. LR shot a little better than the Patriots (14-of-36, 38.9%), were near even in rebounding (GNG 25-21) and turnovers (LR 16, GNG 15), and salted away the upset by going 6-of-7 at the foul line — including 4-of-4 in the final minute. The Pats were 5-of-9.

“I was so proud of our kids with how hard they played, how they battled on every possession, and how they showed toughness when it mattered the most,” Coach True said.

That toughness finally got them past their playoff nemesis and bought them a chance to play another day.

Stat Lines

LR (15-5) scoring: True 12, Jakobs 10, Harriman 6, Hancock 6.

GNG (15-5) scoring: Grant 13, Jordan 6, Hotham 4, West 3, Davis 3, Thayer 2.

Brooke Harriman and Lauren Jakobs (Rivet Photos)

 

 

 

 

 

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