Lake Region senior forward Jordan Turner had a wrap over her right wrist to protect stitches that were the result of a slow-speed car accident Monday.
The Lakers’ 56-47 win over MDI in the Class B girls’ basketball championship game Friday was salve for more difficult pain.
As a junior, Turner left the Lake Region school system and spent the winter months with her father while playing for John Bapst. She was rooting for her friends when Lake Region lost to Presque Isle in the state championship game for a second straight year.
She also wondered whether she could have made a winning difference if she had been playing for the Lakers.
“A bunch of people told me that, which made me feel really guilty on the inside,” Turner said. “I was (there) for all their games last year, all their tournament games, and it hurt so bad to watch them lose (in the state final). I just wanted to be out there supporting them, but it feels great to come back and win it for them.”
Turner’s efforts were pivotal against MDI.
Her first assignment was to stick with the Trojans’ top player, Hannah Shaw.
“I was asked to guard their best player, and yes, it was a struggle. She’s a great player, but having my whole team behind me to help on the help side made it a lot easier to guard her,” Turner said.
Turner admitted it also helped that Shaw was in foul trouble throughout the game.
Turner finished with 10 points, scoring the Lakers’ first two baskets while when many of her teammates were displaying title-game jitters. Both baskets came from passes out of the high post by Tiana-Jo Carter.
“We practiced all week on their overload, is what we call it. We worked on Tiana dishing it down to me and dishing it back to Tiana,” Turner said.
TIANA-JO CARTER had suffered through two state championship game losses. A sprained left ankle wasn’t going to keep her from being on the court to enjoy the final moments of a victory in this year’s final.
Carter injured her ankle with 2:49 to play and her team leading 48-37. After being on the floor for a couple minutes, Carter was able to gingerly walk off the court. Then she spent a few moments on the bench. Her facial expression was one of both pain and frustration.
She re-entered the game with 2:00 on the clock. The next time she came out, it was to receive the applause she deserved for her 21-point, five-block night, as well as for a career with over 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.
“I did not want to finish my very last game in high school sitting on the bench,” Carter said. “Even though I was in incredible pain, I just had to deal with that pain for two more minutes until the game was over. I’m going to suffer through this and finish my last game of high school on the court.”
LAKE REGION Coach Paul True said he could feel the presence of one of his biggest fans, even though he was not in attendance at the Cross Insurance Center.
“I know that my dad’s looking down on me with a big smile on his face,” True said. “These kids have worked hard for it.”
Harry “Pinky” True died six years ago. Pinky True coached with his son for many years. Paul True said “all of these (Lake Region) kids know him.”
Pinky True was his son’s assistant coach at both Skowhegan and Lake Region.
Paul True emphasized that his program is defined by its work ethic and commitment, noting the effort his players put in during the offseason.
“They bust their butt all summer long just for big moments like this,” True said. “I’m happy it’s our time.”
THE GOOD SPORTSMANSHIP Award banner for Eastern Class B girls was presented to Caribou. Other sportsmanship winners were: Washington Academy girls (Eastern C), Shead girls (Eastern D), Presque Isle boys (Eastern B), Narraguagus boys (Eastern C) and Jonesport-Beals boys (Eastern D).
— Staff Writers Steve Craig and Tom Chard contributed to this report.