Yarmouth sophomore Maya Panozzo battles Lake Regionjunior Bella Russo for the ball during the Clippers’ 34-17 victory Saturday afternoon. Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Portland Press Herald

BOX SCORE

Yarmouth 34 Lake Region 17

LR- 8 0 4 5- 17
Y- 10 7 10 7- 34

LR- Smith 4-1-9, Mayo 2-0-5, Russo 1-0-2, Sheldrick 0-1-1

Y- McGonagle 4-2-10, Olson 3-0-6, Panozzo 3-0-6, McNeil 2-0-4,  Schneider 1-1-3, Whitlock 1-0-3, Keaney 1-0-2

3-pointers:
LR (1) Mayo 1
Y (1) Whitlock 1

Turnovers:
LR- 22
Y-20

FTs
LR: 2-4
Y: 3-3

YARMOUTH—Yarmouth’s girls’ basketball team suffered its first loss Tuesday night at Brunswick and it’s fair to say that after that game, the Clippers got a little defensive.

And Saturday afternoon at John C. Stroud Gymnasium, the Clippers got extremely defensive, so much so that visiting Lake Region didn’t score for nearly 14 minutes.

Yarmouth started slowly in its home opener and trailed, 7-4, after three putbacks from Lakers’ sophomore Liz Smith, but the Clippers turned up the defense and when junior Calin McGonagle hit a jump shot with 17.8 seconds to go in the first period, Yarmouth had a 10-8 advantage and never looked back.

The Clippers shut out Lake Region in the second quarter and added seven points to their lead, then early in the third, kept the pressure on with 10 more points to cap a 21-0 run to put the game away.

The Lakers finally snapped their drought and drew within 27-12 heading for the fourth quarter, but Yarmouth scored the first seven points of the final stanza and went on to a convincing 34-17 victory.

The Clippers got 10 points and 10 rebounds from McGonagle, six points from sophomore reserve Maya Panozzo and six points, nine rebounds and three steals from senior captain Hope Olson, who learned earlier Saturday that she had been accepted to play next year at Connecticut College.

“It was our first home game and in the first half, we came out and pressed and had a lot of energy but couldn’t finish at the other end,” said Yarmouth coach David Cousins. “In the second half, we settled down and got our composure and did what we’re supposed to do.”

Ups and downs

Yarmouth entered the season with high hopes and enjoyed a victory on Opening Night, 27-18, at Cape Elizabeth. Tuesday, the Clippers dropped a hard-fought 46-41 decision at Brunswick.

“It was a close game and (Brunswick’s) a great Class A team, so it showed us we can compete with teams at that level,” said Olson. “It showed us how to finish out close games. It was a great learning experience.”

Lake Region, meanwhile, started with losses at home to Wells (57-23) and at Maranacook (45-29).

Last year, Yarmouth swept the Lakers, winning at home, 44-31, and in Naples, 40-20.

Saturday, the Clippers made it three in a row over their one-time tormentor, as every girls who took the floor contributed in one way or another.

McGonagle opened the scoring 30 seconds in, going up-and-under for a layup, but Smith countered with a putback.

After McGonagle got a leaner to rattle in, Smith made a free throw, then scored consecutive putbacks, the second with 1:33 to go in the first quarter, for a 7-4 lead.

Senior Adriana Whitlock set up junior Margaret McNeil for a layup to draw Yarmouth within one, but with 55 seconds on the clock, sophomore Shelby-Lynne Sheldrick’s free throw made it 8-6 Lakers.

But the visitors wouldn’t score again until well into the second half.

In the final minute of the opening stanza, a long jumper from Panozzo tied the score, then with 17.8 seconds showign, McGonagle’s jumper after a steal put the Clippers ahead to stay, 10-8.

With Yarmouth’s defense completely stifling Lake Region in the second period, McNeil hit a short jump shot, Whitlock buried a 3-pointer and Panozzo made a jumper for a 17-8 halftime advantage.

The Clippers kept the defensive pressure on in the third quarter and that helped spark even more offense.

After Olson scored her first points on a putback 14 seconds into the second half, McGonagle hit a jump shot, McGonagle made two free throws, Olson took a pass from McNeil and made a layup, then McGonagle set up junior Kathryn Keaney for a layup with 4:03 remaining in the frame for a commanding 27-8 lead.

“We didn’t do what we were supposed to do (on Smith), so we made a quick adjustment and shut that down, then we got in rhythm with our offense,” Cousins said.

Finally, with 2:57 to go in the third, Smith made a layup to end Yarmouth’s 21-0 run and Lake Region’s 13-minute, 58-second drought.

Junior Bella Russo added a layup to draw the Lakers within 27-12 at quarter’s end.

The Clippers then ended any lingering doubts early in the fourth period, as Olson made a layup, freshman Nori Schneider made a layup while being fouled, then added the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play before Panozzo hit a runner to make it 34-12.

Down the stretch, Lake Region got a driving layup from freshman Melissa Mayo and a Mayo 3, but Yarmouth closed out its 34-17 victory.

“We came together as a team and worked together,” Olson said. “Our communication was better, talking on defense. That helped transition to our offense.”

“We’re there for each other on and off the court,” said McGonagle. “That’s what brings us together and our teamwork made us play the way we did today. We’re really dynamic, but we’re there for each other and we want what’s best for the team. We learned if we get ahead a few points, we can’t let up. We learned that against Brunswick. We learned we have to keep it going the entire game or we won’t get to where we want to go.”

McGonagle stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“Calin played really well,” Cousins said. “She’s been solid all three games for us.”

In addition to Olson and Panozzo’s six points apiece, McNeil added four (to go with seven rebounds and five steals).

“They did a good job defensively on McNeil, but she’s not all about scoring,” Cousins said. “She can do other things.”

Schneider and Whitlock each had three and Keaney finished with two.

Senior Avery May didn’t score, but did grab five rebounds.

“Everybody who played did something, which was good,” said Cousins. “Our younger kids scored some points and that was great to see.”

The Clippers turned the ball over 20 times, but made all three free throws and had a 39-28 rebounding advantage.

Lake Region was paced by Smith’s nine points and eight rebounds. Mayo had five points, Russo two and Sheldrick one.

The Lakers made 2-of-4 foul shots and committed 22 turnovers.

“We just have a hard time putting the ball in the basket,” lamented Lake Region coach Paul True. “The effort was A-plus. What we did defensively on McNeil and Olson was A-plus. Offensively, we turned the ball over a little too much. Yarmouth did a great job pressuring and switching screens, which gave us some problems. The bottom line is we have to learn how to put the round ball through the cylinder.”

Keeping it going

Lake Region, which has been absent junior guard Shauna Hancock so far this season (she’s nursing a hip injury), will try again to get in the win column Tuesday when it hosts Lincoln Academy. The Lakers welcome Old Orchard Beach Thursday.

“Overall, in the grand scheme of things, with (Shauna) on the floor, we’re a much different team, but we’ll work with the cards we’re dealt,” True said. “When you take away one of the better guards in the conference, it has a major effect in everything you do. I love this team and these kids. They have great attitudes and work hard and we’ll try to get better every day.”

Yarmouth is back in action Tuesday at Mt. Ararat. Friday, the Clippers go to Waynflete.

“We need to keep working on our shooting and our plays and keep working together,” McGonagle said.

“I think we have a similar team to last year and we picked up where we left off,” Olson said. “The more we get comfortable with each other, I think we’ll be even better by the end of the season.”

“I’m happy where we are,” Cousins added. “I think as a team, we can come together even more. When we do, good things will happen. We still have to take better care of the ball.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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