PORTLAND – With its one-time 16-point lead down to six in the fourth quarter, the Lake Region girls’ basketball team got back to the roots of its success Thursday.

It wasn’t exactly pretty, but the Lakers relied on their inside game to fend off a rally and beat Waynflete 45-36 in a Western Maine Conference game.

In fact, it was pretty ugly.

“To say the least,” Lake Region Coach Paul True said. “To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I did a great job coaching the offense tonight. I did a poor job on rotations, but when you don’t play your best and you get a win, that’s a positive.”

The Lakers (3-0) also could point to their defense as a bright spot. From the 5:02 mark of the second quarter to 5:07 in the third, Waynflete (1-2) didn’t have a basket and scored just one point.

Problem is, Lake Region managed just three points in that stretch and led 25-18 after Martha Veroneau snapped the Flyers’ run of bad luck.

The teams combined to go 15 consecutive possessions without a score in the second quarter.

“It was frustrating because we were doing a nice job on defense and we were hanging around,” Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said.

“We were actually saying we just needed one to go in. I’m really proud of my kids for hanging in there and staying positive.”

But as Waynflete’s offense continued to struggle in the third quarter, Lake Region finally capitalized.

The Lakers scored a 3-pointer and four 2-pointers to build a 36-22 lead after the third quarter.

Finally, some Waynflete shots started to fall.

Rhiannan Jackson had a pair of baskets to bookend a bucket and a foul shot from Veroneau as Waynflete trimmed the lead to 36-27 with 6:54 to play.

Veroneau then hit a layup with 2:49 remaining to pull Waynflete within 42-36.

And then Lake Region remembered Tiana-Jo Carter is 6-foot-1. Carter took a feed from Kelsey Winslow to score with 1:42 remaining, giving Lake Region a 44-36 lead. Carter added a free throw with 3.4 seconds left.

Carter and Winslow were the only Lakers to score in the fourth quarter. Carter finished with 13 points and Winslow scored 12 to lead Lake Region.

“It got pretty close and that was definitely a wake-up call for us,” Winslow said. “We went into the game knowing it was going to be a lot tougher game than our first two.”

Credit Waynflete for playing good defense, True said, but Lake Region was its own worst enemy. The Lakers hit 3 of 16 3-pointers in the first half. They had myriad turnovers in transition.

It all stood in contrast to the first quarter, when Carter had four points, four steals and a block, and Winslow had eight points as Lake Region seemed destined for a blowout victory.

“We certainly like to play transition when the opportunities are there,” True said. “But when Waynflete was already down there and their defense is set up, we rushed it.”

Keep it simple. Throw the ball down low and take advantage of your matchups. That’s why Lake Region is unbeaten.