PORTLAND — If there has been one constant in Lake Region High’s success, it’s been the defense: pressing, in-your-face, intimidating.

Tuesday night, the top-ranked Lakers rode that defense to the Western Class B girls’ basketball semifinals.

Lake Region’s full-court pressure turned a tight game into a runaway — a 60-34 victory against eighth-seeded Yarmouth at the Portland Expo.

After a slow start, the Lakers forced 11 turnovers in the second quarter to seize the momentum for good. Tied 6-6 after one sluggish quarter, Lake Region led by 15 at the half and 24 entering the fourth quarter.

“It was certainly a little frustrating early on,” said Lakers Coach Paul True. “Again, we were getting good shots, but we weren’t converting. We had a lot of transition opportunities that we just didn’t capitalize on.

“But I thought it was a great effort. Defensively we played very well. I thought once we settled down, we played much better offensively.”

Lake Region (17-2) will play Leavitt, the defending state champion, at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

Yarmouth (9-11) started two sophomores and a freshman.

“Their press is very, very good,” said Clippers Coach Jay Lowery. “We knew that coming in. But I think where we hurt ourselves was that we didn’t execute our offense. Instead, we tried to post up one-on-one inside and we didn’t allow our offense to run.”

The Clippers kept the game at their pace in the first quarter, but Lake Region seized control in the second.

With the score 8-8, the Lakers went on a 17-2 run.

Center Tiana-Jo Carter scored 12 points in the second quarter, including the tiebreaking basket on a pass from Abby Craffey.

Following a turnover, Allison Clark hit a 3-pointer from the right wing.

Another turnover led to an offensive rebound basket by Carter, and the Lakers were off and running.

“I think the atmosphere got to us a bit early on,” said Craffey. “But once we got the hang of it, we just played our game. And it turned out good.”

The Lakers never let up once they got the momentum.

Carter finished the first half strong in her inside battle with Morgan Cahill of Yarmouth, one of the top inside players in the state.

Carter scored five points in the final 1:44, drawing Cahill’s third foul in the process.

Lake Region then started the third quarter with a 12-4 run, getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Sarah Hancock to open a 37-14 lead.

The key all along was the Lakers’ pressure on Yarmouth’s guards. Cahill finished with 14 points, but the Clippers had trouble getting her the ball.

“We knew they had a couple of good inside players in the (Cahill) sisters (Morgan and Sean),” said Craffey, “so we had to keep their guards from getting the ball down low to them. We had to keep the ball out of their hands.”

Carter led the Lakers with 14 points, and added 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Han-cock scored 13 points.

“This was a big step for us,” said Carter. “We’ve got the nerves out. Now we’ll be ready to go for the next one.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:
[email protected]
Twitter: MikeLowePPH


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