Top-seeded Lake Region started a fourth-quarter surge with back-to-back 3-pointers and erased a four-point deficit to beat No. 4 Greely 43-32 in a Western Class B girls’ basketball semifinal Thursday afternoon at the Cumberland County Civic Center.
The Lakers (19-1) will go for a third straight regional title Saturday when they play No. 3 Wells at 2 p.m.
Greely (15-5) had a 25-23 lead after three quarters, and Ashley Storey opened the fourth quarter with a short jumper. But CeCe Hancock answered with a 3-pointer and Sarah Hancock followed with another to give Lake Region a 29-27 lead. After Moira Train tied it for the Rangers, Lake Region went on a 9-0 run to seal the victory.
CeCe Hancock started the outburst with a driving basket. Freshman Kristen Huntress followed with a 3-pointer from the side, Jordan Turner added a basket, and Sarah Hancock made two free throws.
Meanwhile, the Rangers were missing free throws and turning the ball over.
“Those 3-pointers were huge,” said Lake Region Coach Paul True. “Sarah, CeCe and Kristen really stepped up and showed some leadership.
“We stuck with it in the second quarter when things were getting away from us. To be down by only one point at the half was huge. Part of the issue was that I didn’t feel like we were shooting and playing with confidence in the first half. I told the kids at halftime that if they don’t believe in their abilities, then we have some issues. We started to play with confidence in the second half.”
The battle between 6-foot-2 standouts Tiana-Jo Carter of Lake Region and Storey was pretty much a stalemate, so it came down to guard play and execution. The Rangers had the edge in the first half, Lake Region in the second half.
“Their players stepped up and hit the shots,” said Greely Coach Joel Rogers. “Our inability to execute our offense in the fourth quarter hurt us.”
Lake Region’s tournament experience came through at the end.
“Our first key is our confidence,” said Sarah Hancock, a junior. “We knew our shots were going to fall. We kept fighting and pushing, and they eventually did fall. We never give up.”
True said he wished he had given Carter more touches. Greely was guarding her tightly, with Storey and help. Carter wasn’t a factor offensively, but she still had her usual defensive presence despite battling foul trouble. She collected her third foul with 6:18 left in the third quarter, got her fourth with 3:36 remaining in the game and fouled out with 54 seconds left.
CeCe Hancock scored eight of her 11 points in the fourth quarter. Sarah Hancock had seven of her 10 points in the fourth, including 4 for 4 from the line.
Greely started quickly, opening an 8-2 lead. Blais Tardif and Storey opened the game with 3s. Carter, who was held to six points, scored at the end of the quarter to make it 10-6. The Rangers also hit back-to-back 3s to open the second quarter, but CeCe Hancock’s 3-pointer just before halftime drew the Lakers to within a point.
Storey, a junior, led Greely with 10 points.
Now Lake Region will prepare for a rematch with Wells, a team it beat 44-36 at Wells on Dec. 17.
“The two best teams in our league are playing for the regional championship,” said Rogers.
Tom Chard can be reached at 791-6419 or at: