NAPLES – True Meyers, Tyler Walker and Doug Mayo pushed the Lakers out to an early lead vs. visiting Traip on Monday, Dec. 19, and though the Rangers stepped up their play as the evening progressed, they never managed to overtake their hosts. Notch this one in Lake Region’s W column, 52-43.

“They’re a decent team,” Lake Region head coach John Mayo said of the Rangers. “We just couldn’t finish early; we shot like 30 percent in the first half from the floor. It was not pretty.”

It’s the Lakers’ first victory of the season. The team fell in their opener 60-47 on the road vs. Wells, then succumbed 75-55 to rivals Yarmouth and 74-71 to Lincoln. 

Coach Mayo remarked on his boys’ rough start. “We’re still learning. For everybody except for one, this is game number four at the varsity level. We’re trying to learn our roles, and trust each other, and get used the speed of the game and understand that everybody we play against is good – that everyone can shoot the basketball; everybody can rebound and defend.”

Traip, meanwhile, slips to 2-2 in C South. The team kicked off their schedule with wins over St. Dom and Sacopee Valley before narrowly falling to NYA.

The Rangers struck first vs. Lake Region, going up 2-0 in the opening moments. Meyers soon responded, however, first with a deuce then with a trio, for a 5-2 advantage. A bout of solid offensive rebounding shortly kicked the ball out to Walker, who knocked down another three and turned a steal into two more. Doug Mayo next drained two from the line.

12-2. The Lakers may not have been sinking as many shots as they would’ve liked, but they were sinking enough to own the scoreboard. “We started well,” Coach Mayo said. “We’ve started well the last couple games.”

But Traip battled back, going on an 8-1 run of their own to pull within three at 13-10. Points by Tristen Chaine and Tyler Breton (at the line) kept Lake Region inches out front as the Rangers continued to nip at their heels and the first quarter concluded 16-14.

The second quarter belonged largely to Lake Region: The home team pulled further ahead, but this time around, Traip couldn’t muster a comeback run. Chaine, Breton, Mark Mayo and Luke Porter all tallied points for the Lakers in the stretch, helping to secure a 27-18 lead at the break.

The Lakers didn’t show up with a strategy tailored to Traip. “We’re working on our stuff,” Coach Mayo said. “We knew we’d see two-three zone, so we made sure we knew how we were going to run our zone offense against that. If they pressed us, we knew what press-back we were going to run. If they played man, we were going to run our man stuff. It’s more about knowing what we’re going to see than changing what we’re doing to accommodate them.”

The Rangers closed the gap slightly in the third. Lake Region, however, pushed ahead to 36-25 midway through the quarter as Meyers converted a steal into a three-point play. The team maintained that 11-point advantage moments later on a Walker-to-Meyers bounce-pass for two from underneath. Traip closed strong on a 6-1 run to head into the final eight minutes down by just six, 39-33.

The fourth belonged to Lake Region. Walker opened the stretch with a three, Doug Mayo hashed two from the line and Mark Mayo looked powerful beneath the basket as the Lakers ratcheted to 48-38 with time winding down. Traip simply needed a bigger burst of scoring than they could pull off, and the buzzer ultimately tolled on a 52-43 final.

The Lakers, of course, won last winter’s State Final, but graduation cut several critical heads (big names like Jack Lesure and Nate Smith) off that particular hydra, leaving behind very few players with significant experience on the varsity courts. So this year’s lineup is working hard to rebuild and keep the program’s winning rep intact. Hopefully the win over Traip portends good things for the young team. 

“Tyler’s definitely our leader,” Coach Mayo said. “He’s been doing it; he’s the one with the most experience out there. All the guys that played did good things for us, but there’s also things they all need to improve on. We’re getting there.”

Coach Mayo went on: “Mark is a sophomore, so he’s getting used to getting bumped a little bit inside, and finishing. True is learning – sometimes he goes too fast, but he’s putting the ball in the hole at times too, and he plays good defense. Tristen’s learning his role, too. He’s the second guard and sometimes he’s got to bring it and let Tyler run, or vice versa, and not overdribble.”

“‘Share the basketball’ – that’s been the big message over the last couple games,” Coach Mayo said. “Trust each other, share the ball. We’ve got to learn to do that. That’s what the difference for winning is.”

Lake Region faces off at Old Orchard Beach on Wednesday, Dec. 21, then at Maranacook on Christmas-Eve-Eve.

Lakers Tyler Walker (3) and True Meyers (22) defend against an airborne Ranger.

Tyler Walker beats Charlie Driscoll in the paint.

Laker Tristen Chaine skirts Traip defender Angelo Succi.

Laker Tyler Walker is without doubt the team’s leader this season. Walker played a crucial role on last year’s State Championship squad.

Lake Region’s Doug Mayo curls inward on the attack.

Laker Tyler Walker splits a pair of Traip defenders–Jeff Wansley, III (left) and Jalen Lacey (right)

Lake Region’s Tristen Chaine elevates in pursuit of two.

Having battled over a handful of Rangers opponents, Laker Mark Mayo lobs a lay-up toward the net.

Mark Mayo is a tough contender beneath the net for the Lakers this year.

Laker Tristen Chaine ascends toward the net.

Laker Tyler Breton pushes toward the net.

Lake Region’s Tyler Breton cuts inward on the attack.