As the two-time defending Western Class B champion, the Lake Region girls’ basketball team knows what to expect every night.
“We know we have to play with confidence,’’ said junior guard Sarah Hancock. “We have a huge target on our back. Everyone is out to get us.
“We can’t come out slow and we can’t come out flat.’’
Wednesday afternoon, the top-seeded Lakers were neither slow nor flat. They scored the first 11 points and went on to beat ninth-seeded York 58-42 in a regional quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.
Lake Region eventually build a 23-point lead in the third quarter before the Wildcats rallied to cut it to nine. But the Lakers (18-1) regrouped and advanced to a semifinal at 4:30 p.m. Thursday against No. 4 Greely at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
“I thought the kids were loose and relaxed and did a very good job at the beginning of the game,’’ said Lake Region Coach Paul True. “We felt if we came out strong, we could set the tempo for the game.’’
York (12-8), which lost three times to Lake Region, came out in a 1-3-1 defense designed to take away the Lakers’ talented senior center, Tiana-Jo Carter. But the Wildcats got into quick foul trouble, missed their first six shots and committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter.
Lake Region, meanwhile, got two 3-pointers from freshman Kristen Huntress to spark its opening run. Carter pounded the offensive boards and scored in the final second of the quarter to give the Lakers a 21-4 lead.
Even as Shannon Todd tried to bring the Wildcats back in the second quarter, scoring 12 of her 20 points, the Lakers maintained a 33-17 halftime lead. That’s when Rick Clark, the veteran York coach, challenged his players to push even harder.
“I told them to not hold anything back,’’ he said. “I asked them to give everything they had. And they did.’’
The Lakers’ lead peaked at 42-19 on a drive by Jordan Turner (10 points) with 5:01 left in the third. Then the Wildcats began to surge. Emma Thomson hit two 3-pointers, and a Todd 3-pointer from the top of the key with 3:44 left in the game made it 48-39.
Hancock was fouled soon after, hitting the first free throw for a 10-point edge. Meghan Van Loan grabbed the rebound of the second miss and put it back in for a momentum-shifting basket.
“She brings such a special energy to the team,’’ Hancock said of Van Loan. “She plays hard all the time.’’
Carter led the Lakers with 16 points while also blocking five shots, altering several more and making five steals.
Mike Lowe can be reached at 791-6422 or at: