By Steve Craig
NAPLES – A great early season matchup between two established girls' basketball stars turned out to be as good as advertised. It also turned into a coming-out party for a brand-new face on the high school hardwood.
Lake Region freshman guard CeCe Hancock is nearly a foot shorter than her better known teammate, 6-foot-2 center Tiana-Jo Carter, and has scored about a 1,000 fewer points than Waynflete senior guard Martha Veroneau.
But it was Hancock who put her foot on the pedal to ignite the Lakers on a 13-point spree to start the game and the Class B favorites held the lead the rest of the way for a 60-55 win over Class C contender Waynflete.
"They're too good of a team and Veroneau is a tremendous player," Lake Region Coach Paul True said. "There was no question in my mind that that was going to be a dogfight."
Carter scored 15 points and was credited with 32 rebounds. With Waynflete crashing the offensive glass to chase down their 31 3-point attempts, every rebound mattered.
"I remembered playing them last year and they gave us just as much intensity so I knew this game wasn't going to be easy," Carter said.
Lake Region improved to 3-0. Waynflete, which had outscored its first two opponents 78-16 in the first half entering the game, is now 2-1.
Veroneau made the Lakers' extend their effort by scoring 35 points, making five 3-pointers and knocking down pull-up jumpers to stay out of Carter's reach. She was coming off scoring her 1,000th career point in Waynflete's previous game.
"We could have come in and been really timid and scared but we came in with a lot of intensity," Veroneau said. "They got up early and we adjusted. We stuck with them the rest of the game."
Hancock started because senior Sydney Hancock (her cousin) and sophomore Sarah Hancock (her sister) were unavailable. Sydney Hancock is trying to overcome a hamstring injury. Sarah Hancock is undergoing tests after "essentially blacking out at halftime" of the Lakers' season opener, True said.
"I was usually the sixth or seventh man in," CeCe Hancock said. "The last game I started in I was nervous and I had too many turnovers and I think that's because I was so nervous. I came into this one keeping my breathing good and my head into it and I thought I played a lot better."
CeCe Hancock finished with 11 points and nine assists and was at her best in the opening minutes, scoring the first basket and then setting up six straight points for teammates and finishing the 13-0 run with a steal and layup.
Kelsey Winslow led the Lakers with 21 points.
Waynflete trimmed the margin to 30-19 at the half and had it down to 36-29 when Helen Gray-Bauer knocked down a 3-pointer.
That's when CeCe Hancock shook off a series of turnovers and got back to getting the ball down low to Winslow and Carter. Winslow scored 11 points in the quarter as Lake Region surged to a 49-32 lead.
Veroneau scored 16 in the fourth quarter, while Lake Region was just 7 of 16 at the line, allowing the Flyers to get close.
"Once we adjusted we did a really nice job and battled," Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said. "I know they're down some kids but they're still a tremendous team."
Staff Writer Steve Craig can be reached at 749-6413 or at: