PORTLAND—Chandler True and Lauren Jakobs paired up for 30 of Lake Region’s 52 – True hashed 16 and Jakobs 14 – as the team cruised to a hefty triumph over Oak Hill on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 20. The Lakers led by a mere 12, 28-16, at the break, but settled into a crushing groove in the second half. For their part, the Raiders managed just 28 points across the game, which took place at the Portland Expo.
“It’s a tournament game, and we’re dealing with high school kids,” Lake Region head coach Paul True said, asked if the bout should’ve been closer than it was. “You never know how kids are going to come out and react to this atmosphere. I thought we were the best at it today.”
The action unfolded evenly, if slowly, through the first: Both teams rebounded well on defense, limiting the opposition to one-and-done attacks. It took more than four minutes for either side to get on the board; finally, Oak Hill’s Abigail Nadeau hit a pair of frees to break the 0-0 deadlock.
“They had a height advantage on us,” Chandler True said of Oak Hill’s rebounding efforts. “We knew that. They had two post players…We knew we needed to box out, so that was kind of happening. It worked out for us in the end.”
Oak went up 5-0 from there, but True immediately answered that Raiders’ three with one of her own – as a unit, Lake Region loves to shoot the three, and they’re mighty good at it. Lake Region inched ahead 6-5 on a Shauna Hancock drive for two, then 8-5 when Aisley Sturk fed a steal to Rachel Shanks, who relayed to True, who ended up at the line – where she hit both attempts.
“We’re all pretty good shooters around the three,” said Melissa Bonenfant, herself known to knock balls down from beyond the arc. “When we all rotate the ball around, when we’re passing it nicely, every one of us can shoot a three.”
“Our main thing is just to pass it around,” Chandler True said. “And then, if that shot’s there, take it. We love to shoot – and we support each other, no matter what, taking those shots. Anyone can take them.”
The Lakers kicked off the second quarter with a 16-4 run: True dished to Jakobs for two, Shanks hit a three from low on the right side, Jakobs hit a three from low on the left side, and so on. Bonenfant capped Lake Region’s half with a big three, then one of two from the line. The last five points of the stretch, though, belonged to Oak Hill, leading to a 28-16 tally at the break.
“It was just a matter of settling down,” Coach True said, asked what allowed his girls to assemble the critical run. “We felt, all along, if we could get the game going up and down, then it was going to tilt in our benefit.”
The three isn’t Lake Region’s only strength; they drive up the key skillfully as well. “Penetrating is huge,” ChandlerTrue said, “because we wanted to draw fouls – which, you could see, we did. [Nadeau], coming into the halftime, had four fouls, and that’s what we wanted.”
Nadeau opened the third with a Raiders two, but Lake Region promptly launched into another run, this one a whopper: a relentless, 20-1 assault that effectively smashed Oak Hill’s hopes to tiny, tiny smithereens. Brooke Harriman hit a pair of twos to begin the push, before True nailed back-to-back threes in quick, crowd-pleasing succession. Jakobs, Shanks and Sturk all contributed to the fireworks display as well.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that can shoot it,” Coach True said. “One of the keys for us today, we had two seniors coming off the bench who are both good perimeter players, and they stepped on the floor and played with a lot of confidence – Rachel Shanks and Melissa Bonenfant. But the bottom line is, when we share the basketball, and we’re patient on offense, and we find the open player, we can be very difficult to guard.”
Scoring slowed to a crawl in the fourth quarter – but it did so for both teams. The Raiders ultimately outpaced the Lakers 8-4 in those waning minutes, but Lake Region’s advantage was simply too huge, and they bagged the W in the end anyway.
As mentioned, True finished with 16 and Jakobs with 14. Shanks and Hancock added six apiece, Harriman and Bonenfant four and Sturk two.
“I think we were just really prepared,” Bonenfant said. “We prepared very well for their personnel…We knew who were the shooters, who were their post players. We were ready – we watched a lot of film. [Nadeau and Desirae Dumais] were our main players to shut down, and I think we did pretty well, doing that.”
No. 4 Lake Region earned a bye through the prelims based on their regular season record, 13-5; they thus jumped to 14-5 with the victory over the Raiders. The Lakers advanced to face one-seed, defending State Champs and longtime rivals Gray-New Gloucester – who trounced Spruce Mountain 49-34 later that same afternoon – in the semis on Thursday the 22nd.
Adam Birt can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.
Aisley Sturk drives toward the net for Lake Region vs. Oak Hill.
Shauna Hancock powers into a two attempt.
Brooke Harriman surveys pass options for Lake Region in their straightforward win over Oak Hill.
Chandler True, under heavy guard, tries for a layup.
Lauren Jakobs battles underneath for the Lakers.
Laker Rachel Shanks fires off an outside attempt.