PORTLAND – Relentless intensity. That’s what opponents face against the Lake Region girls’ basketball team.
Top-seeded Lake Region held York scoreless for a 9:21 span in the first half, turning a 4-0 deficit into a 14-4 lead, and the No. 2 Wildcats never recovered Saturday in the Western Class B final.
The Lakers broke it open in the third quarter and eased to a 50-24 win at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
It’s the Lakers’ second consecutive regional title and fifth in eight years. Lake Region (19-2) will play Presque Isle at 7 p.m. Friday at the Civic Center in a rematch of last year’s state championship game, won by Presque Isle, 49-47.
“I’m so excited,” said guard Sydney Hancock. “To win back-to-back is the best feeling.”
Tiana-Jo Carter led the Lakers with 14 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots. She was named the recipient of the Mike DiRenzo Award, given to the outstanding player/sportsperson in the tournament.
“I didn’t expect this,” she said. “I just wanted to come here and win a championship.”
York finished 18-3, all the losses to the Lakers.
“They took us completely out of our offense,” said Coach Rick Clark. “They forced us into bad decisions in our offensive end. They were the aggressor.”
The most pressure, Clark said, was on his guards. The Hancock trio — Sydney, CeCe and Sarah — constantly harassed York’s perimeter players, not allowing them to have open looks at the basket or passing lanes.
“That’s what we try to do to other teams, and what we do to most other teams, force their guards out of their comfort zone,” said Clark. “They did it to us. And we kind of lost our way for a long enough period that we couldn’t get back into it.”
York led 4-0 and looked comfortable. Then the shots stopped falling after Ruby Cribby hit a jumper with 4:18 left in the first quarter.
The Wildcats didn’t score again until 2:57 remained in the second quarter; by that time Lake Region had a 14-4 lead. Unheralded Sarah Hancock (11 points) hit a 3-pointer with 1:16 left in the first quarter to put Lake Region ahead for good, 5-4.
“I think that got us going,” said Carter. “When she’s draining that 3 and the crowd started screaming, that got us going.”
With Carter and Kelsey Winslow dominant inside, the Lakers were in control.
Lake Region led 14-8 at the half and pulled away in the third, outscoring York 21-11. Carter, Winslow and Sydney Hancock each had six points in that quarter, with Hancock draining two long 3-pointers.
“We knew if we played our game and played our defense the way we could, things would work out,” said Carter. “Offensively we were a little rough and Coach kept telling us to calm down. The offense would come.”
That’s because Paul True knows what his team’s defense can do to an opponent.
“I thought we did a great job playing poised at the defensive end,” said True. “I thought we were taking quick shots and our ball movement was not good in the first half. But regardless if we play the way we can at the defensive end, we’re going to be in the game.”
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: