NAPLES – It wasn’t pretty. But then, that’s usually the way the Lake Region High girls’ basketball players like it.

Tough. Gritty. Physical. That’s when the Lakers are at their best.

That’s how they played Friday night.

Rebounding from a quick 8-0 deficit, the Lakers made a huge statement by beating Greely 44-31 in a Western Maine Conference game. Lake Region used its frenetic pressure defense to fluster the Rangers and pull away in the second half.

It was the second huge Heal point-worthy win in a week for Lake Region (14-2), which is ranked first in Western Class B. The Lakers pounded third-ranked York last Saturday.

Greely (13-3), which beat the Lakers 38-33 on Jan. 3, is ranked fifth in Western Class B.

“I think this means that people shouldn’t underestimate us so much,” said Tiana-Jo Carter, Lake Region’s standout junior center. “They think since we lost to Freeport and Greely that we might not be as good. But I think beating York and beating Greely really says something.”

Especially the way the Lakers did it.

Greely controlled the game until late in the second quarter, when Sarah and Sydney Hancock each hit a 3-pointer in the final minute to give Lake Region a one-point halftime lead, 15-14. The Lakers built on that momentum in the third quarter, with Carter leading the way.

Held to four points in the earlier loss to Greely, Carter had 16 this time, along with 14 rebounds. Nine of her points came in the third quarter, when the Lakers extended their lead to 30-23.

“I thought the game changed when we let Carter roam,” said Greely Coach Joel Rogers. “We didn’t get good box outs.

“The first half we were tremendous defensively, but we let her roam and get to the baseline in the second.”

It didn’t help that the Rangers lost sophomore center Ashley Storey — their second-leading scorer and top rebounder — to fouls in the third quarter. She didn’t score but had eight rebounds and five assists — four on the Rangers’ first four possessions of the game, lifting them to an 8-0 lead with Jordynn Copp scoring six of her 10 points.

Storey countered Carter for the most part. But she picked up her fourth foul with 2:02 left in the third while fighting for a rebound with Lake Region’s Savannah Devoe. Then, before Rogers could get Storey out, she picked up her fifth foul on the rebound of a missed free throw.

Rogers couldn’t understand later why she was called for fouls on those plays in a game that was so physical. But, he quickly added, “Lake Region deserved to win this game. They were the better team.”

After Storey fouled out, Devoe hit the first of two foul shots and then Carter got the rebound and scored on the miss, making it 28-23.

The Rangers got a 3-pointer from Jaclyn Storey (13 points) to cut it to 30-26 early in the fourth. But the Lakers slowly pulled away. Freshman CeCe Hancock hit a layup and 3-pointer to make it 37-28. A 3-pointer by Sydney Hancock and a putback by Carter made it 42-29.

“It was a struggle, and give a lot of credit to Greely,” said Lake Region Coach Paul True. “But I felt the kids hung tough and kept working throughout the game. And we had some kids step up.”

“This puts us exactly where we want to be,” said Sydney Hancock, a senior guard. “We’ve heard the doubters. But we just want to keep proving a point, that we can do it again.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

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Twitter: MikeLowePPH