Thursday, May 23, 2013
BANGOR - Wow.
The intensity of the game was reflected by the intensity on the faces of the Lake Region reserves Friday night during the 49-47 loss to Presque Isle in the Class B state final at Bangor.
Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Tiana-Jo Carter of Lake Region stands her ground and blocks a shot by Kayla Richards of Presque Isle at the Bangor Auditorium.
Let the record show that Presque Isle won the Class B girls' basketball state championship Friday night, edging Lake Region 49-47 at the frenzied Bangor Auditorium. But when people talk about this game in the future, what they'll remember most was the way the game was played.
Neither team backed down. Neither team blinked.
It was, simply, a classic.
"Oh my God, it was crazy," said Kayla Richards, a Presque Isle senior who saved her best for the final minutes. "We've been waiting for this for so long. It was crazy."
The victory capped a 22-0 season for the Wildcats, who won the fourth state title in school history (two in Class A, now two in B, the last one in 2006 when they also beat the Lakers). For Lake Region, the loss ended a 19-3 season.
"We've got a lot of heart," said Presque Isle Coach Jeff Hudson. "We play tough competition all year. Give Lake Region credit. Lake Region played great. We were just a little better."
Lake Region trailed by 10 late in the second quarter, by seven at the half. Then the Lakers got their game together to set up a wild fourth quarter.
"We had a choice to make," said Tiana-Jo Carter, the Lakers' sophomore center who had 17 points, 13 rebounds and four very loud blocked shots. "Give up or change the way the game was going. We played our hardest."
The final period, which began with Presque Isle ahead 38-32, saw eight lead changes and one tie. It was fueled by an intensity that magnified every play.
A 3-pointer by Abby Craffey gave Lake Region a 41-40 lead with 5:39 left. Seconds later, Richards drove the lane to regain the lead for the Wildcats, 42-41.
Freshman Sarah Hancock drove the middle to give Lake Region a 43-42 lead, but Chelsea Nickerson of Presque Isle got her only basket of the game, another drive down the middle with 3:12 left for a 44-43 lead.
Sydney Hancock hit two foul shots -- the first with 2:15 left, the second with 2:07 remaining -- and Lake Region had the lead again. But Richards drove left for a swooping layup with 1:53 left and Presque Isle led again.
Sydney Hancock's layup from her sister, Sarah, with 1:15 left gave Lake Region its last lead, 47-46. The Wildcats responded with a short jumper by Meredith Stewart in the lane with 58.4 seconds left.
A Lake Region turnover led to a foul shot by Chandler Guerrette with 29.3 seconds left and a 49-47 Presque Isle lead. Another Lakers' turnover -- they had 23 -- and missed Presque Isle foul shot set up one last chance for Lake Region.
With the clock running down, Allison Clark took a 3-point attempt from the left wing. It missed and Carter got the rebound. But before she could do anything with it, Richards reached in to tie her up and then knock the ball out, preserving the win for the Wildcats.
"She's a gamer," said Presque Isle's Hudson. "She's the heart and soul of this team. We need a play, she makes it."
It was a draining loss for the Lakers, seeking their first title since 1975. But, said Coach Paul True, "I couldn't be more proud of my kids. At the beginning of the week, if you told me that we would have the last play with a chance to win the game, I would have taken it."
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:
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Chelsea Nickerson of Presque Isle celebrates with the net Friday night after the Wildcats completed a perfect season with a 49-47 victory against Lake Region.