The Lake Region High boys’ basketball team looked every bit the No. 1 seed in the Class B South tournament Thursday night.

The Lakers overwhelmed fourth-ranked Lincoln Academy in every aspect of the game, earning a return to the regional final with a 76-31 win over the Eagles in the Class B South semifinals at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Lake Region scored the game’s first seven points. Then, after Lincoln Academy regrouped following a timeout to tie the game, the Lakers went on a 14-0 run and never looked back.

“We’ve had some games where we’ve played that well, especially in the second half,” said John Mayo, Lake Region’s head coach. “When we decide to go play defense and get in passing lanes and attack on offense and share the basketball, we can play with anybody.”

Lake Region (18-2) will play third-seeded Yarmouth in the regional championship game at 3:45 p.m. Saturday at the Cross Insurance Arena. The teams split in the regular season, each winning at home.

Lincoln Academy, which lost to Lake Region by 20 points in the regular season, finished 9-11.

“We just didn’t have it,” said Lincoln Academy Coach Ryan Ball. “They’re a better team than us. They’re bigger, stronger and faster, more experienced than us. But we are better than that. We let them set the pace.”

The Lakers, who returned 11 players from a team that lost in the regional final last year, won this game with a relentless defensive effort. They forced 28 turnovers and never let Lincoln Academy’s shooters get in a rhythm. The Eagles shot just 21 percent.

“Our defense is what helps us the most,” said Nate Smith, who led the Lakers with 18 points. “The first half we were a little unfocused on defense. Coach kind of got on us at halftime about defense and that’s what goes into our offense.

“Everything we do is defense. Our biggest part of our offense is our defense.”

Lake Region got going after Nathan Masters’ two free throws to tie it with 3:49 left in the first quarter.

The Lakers scored the final 10 points of that quarter and the first four of the second, taking a 21-7 lead on a Smith 3-pointer from the right corner. The Lakers kept pushing the tempo and the lead kept growing.

And when Lincoln Academy tried to take away one of Lake Region’s options on offense, someone else stepped up. Smith had eight in the second quarter while Jackson Lesure had seven.

Then in the third quarter, Marcus DeVoe rained down four 3-pointers to help expand the lead to 57-24 entering the fourth. Lesure and DeVoe each finished with 14 points.

“Our team does a really good job when somebody is going, we give them the ball and let them go,” said Smith.

Ball said the Eagles hoped to cut the lead to 10 in the third quarter. “But we had too many turnovers,” he said. The Eagles had nine in the third as Lake Region’s defense really clamped down.

“The guys know how to focus on the task at hand,” said Mayo. “Play 32 minutes of high-intensity defense, attack the rim, share the basketball. That really showed in the second half.”

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