By Steve Craig
NAPLES — Injuries have made it tough for the Lake Region girls' basketball team to play to its potential.
Saturday, with a full healthy roster, the Lakers were tough on York, one of the other contenders in Western Class B.
Lake Region, ranked No. 3, outscored second-ranked York by 17 points in the fourth quarter to post a 61-39 victory.
Lake Region (12-2) has beaten York (12-2) twice this season.
"There was stuff out there that York was now the best team in the division. We sent a great message," said Kelsey Winslow, who scored a team-high 16 points for Lake Region.
"This game, we were all out there and healthy. It was nice to be all together again."
Lake Region was upset recently by Freeport when center Tiana-Jo Carter was out with a back injury.
Starting guards Sydney Hancock and Sarah Hancock also have missed numerous games due to injury.
Against York, Carter scored 15 points and grabbed 26 rebounds, Sydney Hancock had 10 points and Sarah Hancock added six. The youngest Hancock, freshman CeCe (Sydney's cousin, Sarah's sister) scored 11.
Carter and Winslow both had six points in the third quarter as the Lakers quickly turned a 25-19 deficit into a 30-25 lead.
That sequence happened right after freshman point guard Shannon Todd, who led York with 17 points, picked up her fourth foul. The foul came after CeCe Hancock executed a strip steal at half court.
"Losing Shannon like we did, at that moment, when we had just gotten the lead and were starting to feel good about ourselves, they sensed it," York Coach Rick Clark said. "Immediately their energy level went up a notch and we're at a point where we're playing the second game in two nights and our energy level went down."
York was able to right itself temporarily and twice tied the game on baskets by Chloe Smedley and Paige McElwain.
Sarah Hancock knocked down an open 3-pointer, then got Winslow loose in transition for an inside basket before the quarter closed.
Carter set the tone in the fourth quarter with two blocks on York's first possession, and she and Winslow combined for eight points in a 9-1 run, and the rout was on.
York scored five points in the fourth quarter.
"We love to think that Lake Region is known for playing just crazy defense," said Sydney Hancock, who is finally close to full strength after a hamstring injury. "People don't want to handle the ball against us and we definitely proved that tonight."
"Our effort was great. We did a lot of good things and we did it against one of the top teams in Western B," Lake Region Coach Paul True said.
For their part, the Wildcats would like a third crack at the defending Western champs.
"Lake Region is finally healthy for the first time and they showed how good they are, but I'd like to think if we play well enough, we'll meet up with them again," in the playoffs, Clark said.
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be reached at 749-6413 or at: