NAPLES—Tristen Chaine and True Meyers hashed 13 apiece in a 47-39 Lake Region win over visiting Poland on Friday night, Jan. 19. The Lakers led for the majority of the game, though they couldn’t manage to break away for the sort of blowout they dealt the Knights not two weeks prior.
“They’re playing hard,” Lake Region head coach John Mayo said of Poland. “[Head coach Tyler Tracy]’s got them playing with confidence, regardless of what their record is. They come and battle every night; they battled when we played them last time.”
Friday evening, Poland picked up the opening four points – two by Tyler Tucci and two more by Peter Bolduc – after Lake Region’s Mark Mayo first turned the ball over on a travel call, then, on the Lakers’ next possession, found himself stripped of control as he battled through the paint under heavy guard.
Mayo began to correct his bad luck when Meyers’s first shot of the night – a baseline three attempt – sailed over the rim; it landed in Mayo’s hands and he quite capably dropped it in off the backboard for two.
Tucci knocked down a three to push the Knights out front 7-2, but Laker Ethan Chadwick soon denied a Bolduc attempt and Meyers denied the rebound; Meyers emerged from the ensuing scramble having been fouled, and nailed both his frees to usher his boys within three at 7-4.
Chadwick followed up with an offensive rebound and a two for 7-6. Chaine then went to the line, hitting one of two. Mayo grabbed the rebound on Chaine’s second shot – and suffered an immediate foul himself; he also added one of two to put LRHS ahead for the first time, 8-7.
“We really looked to go inside,” Coach Mayo said, “and they were shutting that down early. They forced us at the beginning – we go to Ethan and Mark inside, and they were collapsing really hard, overcommitting and forcing us to go outside, and it took us a while to adjust to that.”
Tucci shortly drained his second three of the night and thereby reestablished a Knights advantage, 10-8. Poland inched to 12-8 on a Bolduc two before Lake Region finally gathered the steam they really needed – steam enough to dash out front for good.
Meyers kicked off the push: After a Poland defender stripped him, stymieing his progress toward the net, that Knight volleyed the ball outward for a teammate near mid-court; Chaine was there to steal in turn, however, and to drive forward once again. Chaine dished at the last moment, across-underneath to Meyers, who completed the fiery play with a layup. 12-10 Knights to end the quarter.
Chaine hit a deuce to begin the second, and, after a long Lakers possession – like, so long that a wisecracking Poland fan shouted “You’ve got to shoot it sometime!” – he hit another. The first bucket tied the game at 12-12, the second shuttled LRHS into the lead again, 14-12.
The Lakers would remain on top for the rest of the game. As the second unwound, they built to 19-15 on a Meyers three, 21-15 on a Chaine two and 24-15 on a Mayo three-point play. At the break, Lake Region held the upper-hand 26-21.
“Defensively,” Coach Mayo said, “we forced them to take a lot of tough shots – we didn’t always rebound it, which gave them a second shot…We tried to play good, solid, half-court defense today. We allowed more penetration on the wing than I like, and we fouled out of it a little bit, but forcing them to take on that’s a leaner off the dribble that’s not at the rim – that’s good defense, as long as we get the rebound.”
Poland fought valiantly in the early third, and nipped at the Lakers’ heels: Tucci back-to-backed a two and a three to bring the Knights within one at 27-26, but then Lake Region launched into a 10-1 run. Mayo, Meyers and Chaine combined to ratchet the score all the way to 37-27; it would stand 37-29 at the dawn of the fourth.
Poland threatened again as the final eight minutes elapsed: For an agonizing stretch, they forced Lakers turnover after Lakers turnover, capitalizing on enough of them to reach 37-35. But Lake Region soon settled down. They were able to keep pace with the Knights for a while, then outpace them as the ending buzzer neared. After Tucci hit a free to bring his boys within a single possession at 42-39, the Lakers closed out the night on a 5-0 run. Ayden Grass drained a jumper and a free to make it 45-39, and Chaine and Meyers hit a free apiece to achieve the final, 47-39.
“We’re not taking care of the ball,” Coach Mayo said of Lake Regions rash of turnovers. “They go to the zone, and we go passive when we go against the zone; we stop being aggressive and we stand and that makes it easier to play us. When we stand and watch, or make one pass and stop, then that makes it easier for them to defend; they can predict what’s coming.”
As mentioned, Chaine and Meyers finished with 13 each. Mark Mayo added 11 total, Grass four, and Chadwick, Dawson Smith and Robert Crockett two per player.
“Tristen’s been doing that all year,” Coach Mayo said. “He’s been battling illness, so that’s good for him to do that. True, he’s been up and down. He hit some good shots for us tonight.”
Lake Region moved to 6-6 on the result. When the Lakers met the Knights not even two weeks back, they prevailed to the tune of 57-28 – so it’s fair to say both teams brought a different game to the court the second time around.
“In that other game,” Coach Mayo said, “we hit shots early. We didn’t tonight, so we gave them opportunities to stay in the game. Give them credit. And they’re having a tough week, too…Good for them, for gutting it out tonight. They had a chance, there; there was a couple of – ball didn’t go the right way, they could take the tie or take the lead.”
“The game tonight was a slower-paced game,” Mayo said. “We’ve been dealing with sickness and people out and coming back from stuff. We didn’t go aggressive because physically we can’t…[And] they play a zone, slow the game down, make it so you have to force it to make good shots. They did a good job with that.”
“And a lot of fouls in the second half,” Mayo continued. “Six minutes to go and you’re both in double-bonus; that just slows the pace of the game down even more – which is good when you’re trying to catch up.”
The Lakers hosted Traip (eighth in C South, at 5-7) on Tuesday the 23rd; they visit Waynflete (sixth in C South, 8-3) on Friday the 26th.
Adam Birt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CurrentSportsME
Laker Mark Mayo rockets toward the basket; a pair of Knights opponents resist.
Dawson Smith curls around a Knights defender.
Tristen Chaine posted 13 for the Lakers in their win over Poland.
True Meyers tallied 13 on Friday night.
Paul Walker of Lake Region plays keepaway with a Knights opponent while surveying his pass options.
Ayden Grass shovels the ball forward for Lake Region.