Smith delivers key big shots in Laker win

BEN CHAINE of Lake Region (right) picks up Poland guard Derek Michaud at halfcourt during last Friday's season opener. Chaine scored 13 points to help lead the Lakers to a 53-48 victory on the road. (Rivet Photo)

LAKERS 53

Ben Chaine 3-5-13, Cody Gibbons 0-1-1, Quinn Piland 4-2-10, Sam Smith 7-0-18, Mike Triglione 4-2-11, Adam Faulk, Nick Hall, Mark Williams. Totals: 18-10-53. 3-pointers: Chaine 2, Smith 4, Triglione 1. FT: 10-21. Turnovers: 17.

POLAND 48

Nick Allen 1-1-3, Derek Michaud 0-1-1, Josh Gary 1-0-2, CJ Martin 5-4-14, Shawn Murphy 0-1-1, Tyler Michaud 4-1-9, Alan Young 8-2-18, Adam Mocciola, Adam Moody. Totals: 19-10-48. 3-pointers: 0. FT: 10-17. Turnovers: 13.

 

By Wayne E. Rivet

Staff Writer

POLAND — Sam Smith has worked hard to improve his shooting release.

It looked pretty good on opening night.

The junior point guard sank two long-range 3-pointers to close out the first and second quarters and scored a team-high 18 points to lead Lake Region to a solid 53-48 victory last Friday night at Poland.

Smith tied Poland’s Alan Young for evening scoring honors. Young led the Knights with eight rebounds.

In a gritty battle, Smith tallied four treys while the Lakers held a 7-0 advantage in long balls, while the Knights had a slight lead in rebounding, 32-30. Ultimately, the difference was the Lakers’ ability to knock down big shots every time the Knights made a comeback bid.

LR Coach J.P. Yorkey praised the overall team effort turned in by his squad, from Smith and fellow guard Ben Chaine connecting on big shots to stingy defense turned in by sophomore Quinn Piland against Poland’s dynamic guard CJ Martin, and Mike Triglione’s inside work, which resulted in nine rebounds and 11 points.

“The kids worked hard and they followed our game plan. We were a bit sloppy in the beginning, but our defense and timely shots allowed us to establish and maintain the lead for the rest of the game,” Coach Yorkey said. “Our strength is our balance and we do have depth, which I think you will see as the season progresses. We have emphasized rebounding as a team with consistent technique by each player.”

Piland paced the Lakers’ rebounding effort with 11.

“Quinn had an amazing game defensively guarding their best player, CJ Martin, almost the whole game. A double-double in his first varsity start, and he’s a sophomore. Not bad, I’d say,” Coach Yorkey said. “CJ did score 14, but very few of those points were scored in the half court against Quinn. CJ had to work very hard just to catch the ball, and often times Quinn was able to prevent CJ from catching, even on plays that were for him with multiple screens to get him open. Quinn hustled through the screens and still denied passes or was able to contest the shots. Quinn had a huge blocked shot down the stretch. It was a standard wing closeout situation, CJ pulled up for a jump shot. Quinn stayed right with him, and used his length to make a clean block. Great effort.”

With an undersized front line, LR also received solid glass work from Cody Gibbons (seven rebounds) and Triglione.

“Cody did an excellent job keeping his man off the offensive glass, by consistently establishing and maintaining good position. This is something that he has improved on significantly in practice since our opening scrimmage with Oxford Hills,” Coach Yorkey said. “Mike surprised me last summer with his interior defense as he has been mostly a perimeter defense for the last two years. Now, he needs to help us out inside as we have lost our top three inside defender players from last season. Mike had a good all around game handling the ball for us as needed, creating for others, defense and rebounding, and he hit some huge shots. Nick Hall also looked good inside, I thought.”

The Lakers fell behind 4-1, but Chaine drained a 3-pointer to tie the game. Both Smith and Chaine put pressure on the Knights’ interior defense, resulting in early foul trouble for forward Josh Gary, connecting on driving hoops to tie the game at 8-8. Smith put LR up with a trey at the buzzer.

Smith continued to shoot the ball well in the second, knocking down a 3-ball from the corner with 16.4 seconds left and then drilled another trey with 1.2 seconds on the clock for a 25-22 Laker lead at the half.

The Lakers enjoyed the game’s biggest lead at 15-8 after two Piland hoops, but seven turnovers in the quarter opened the door for the Knights to tie the game at 15, 17 and 22. Martin and Young each scored 4 points during the rally.

“We have a lot of good guards. Sam and Ben played well. They both had great off-seaons and also have two years of varsity experience under their belts. Sam had a good all around game. He shot the ball well, handled the point well when he needed to, went to the basket and finished with contact, created for others, and was solid on defense and rebounding position,” Coach Yorkey said. “Ben was consistently good attacking the basket. He drew a lot of fouls, getting two of their bigs in foul trouble with one ultimately fouling out. Ben was also able to find the open man when the defense helped on his penetration, and he hit some timely threes himself. Ben had a few more turnovers (4) than I would expect, but I will chalk that up to nerves and also give the Poland guards credit: they have quick hands and are decent on-ball defenders. He had decent on ball defense against their point guard holding him to 1 point and making him work.”

Coach Yorkey said LR also received quality minutes from guards Mike Mageles and Mark Williams, a talented newcomer who is settling in.

Much like the first half, the third quarter was a tightly fought battle. The Lakers opened up a 32-27 lead on a foul-line jumper by Triglione with 3:24 left in the period. Chaine swished a 3-pointer with 2:10 to go to make it 37-29, but the Knights edged closer on a strong drive by Martin.

Martin made it even tighter when he came up with a steal and was awarded a break-away foul. Martin sank two foul shots, and Tyler Michaud scored on a nifty spin move in the lane to cut the LR lead to 40-37 after three quarters.

But, as they did all game, the Lakers remained cool under fire and answered the Knights’ surge. Triglione scored off a reverse lay-up and Smith connected on a 3-pointer. LR moved the ball with five crisp passes, which resulted in Smith’s wide open look with 5:27 left.

Poland kept the pressure on as Gary made a baseline jumpshot with 2:43 left to close the gap to 47-44.

Triglione, however, hit the dagger shot — a deep 3-pointer in front of the Laker bench with 1:48 left. Down 50-44, the Knights closed within a buck after two Young inside hook shots.

Piland delivered the big defensive play to seal the victory when he blocked a Martin jumper with 22.3 seconds. Triglione collected the rebound, was fouled immediately, and converted both foul shots. After a Poland miss, Chaine snagged the rebound, and made 1-of-2 foul shots to put the game in the books.

While Coach Yorkey was thrilled to see his team open the season with a victory, there is plenty of work ahead.

“We’re going to work on polishing up our team offenses and team defenses, and individually we will focus some time on passing and catching under heavy defensive pressure,” he said. “We need to clean up some footwork a bit too. I’m looking for our guys to have good focus this week, as they have so far. We have three games this week and each of our three practices will be the day before a game. All three teams play differently and which will require a different focus each day.”

Up next: The Lakers travel today, Thursday, Dec. 13 to Waynflete (7 p.m.) and head to Freeport on Saturday, Dec.  15 (2:30 p.m.) and Gray-New Gloucester on Tuesday, Dec. 18 (7 p.m.).

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