Girls Basketball: Lakers take down Patriots, return to Regional Final

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Elizah Hotham fires off a shot.

PORTLAND—The Patriots and the Lakers have clashed repeatedly in the tournament semis in recent years, and 2018 was no different: This time around, Lake Region narrowly got the better of their rivals, 34-31, Lauren Jakobs leading the charge with 12.

“It’s not personal, and it’s not ‘good to beat Gray,’” Lake Region head coach Paul True said. “It’s just good to live another day, and to have another opportunity to play.”

“The past few years we’ve lost to them in semis,” Jakobs said. “So it’s an amazing feeling to finally beat them. We knew we could – we have before. We just had to execute, and we did that.”

“It seemed like every time we scored, they had an answer,” G-NG head coach Mike Andreasen said. “They scored 10 threes against us during the season. We said, ‘If we can keep them to three or fewer, we’ll be in pretty good shape.’ They did not score a three today. It was all layups – they got to the basket. We took away the outside shot, but it does no good to take away the outside shot if you’re going to let them go in.”

The outing, held at Cross Insurance Arena, started slow; finally, the teams traded twos: Jakobs and Patriot Jordan Grant matched one another near the quarter’s midway mark. Grant added another two and Bri Jordan one from the line to shunt G-NG ahead a step, but Lake Region weren’t about to lay down. Jakobs hit back-to-back buckets for a 6-5 advantage before Patriot Eliza Hotham drained a two to seesaw the score once again.

“Bri didn’t take many shots today,” Andreasen said. “We told her today, she and Jordy, they each needed to take at least 12 shots. Today, Bri wasn’t looking for her shot. We wanted to play her inside a little bit, because we knew they would take away our outside – and they did.”

Grant basketed to open the second, but then both sides’ offense withered on the vine; neither struck again for several minutes. When that happened, it was Lake Region – and they didn’t just grab a two, they broke into an 8-0 run.

Brooke Harriman kicked off the push with a two; then, the Patriots in transition, Chandler True purse-snatched the ball from Grant, spun ‘round, drove and scored. Later – with barely seven seconds to play before the break – Shauna Hancock hit a two and True went to the line, where she sank both attempts. 14-9 Lake Region at the half.

“We just have to play relaxed,” Jakobs said, asked about the Lakers’ attack. “Sometimes we get too worked up in games like this. We try to get it inside, try to get fouls called. We know we have shooters on the outside, but we can’t rely on the outside, because it’s not our home court. We have to be able to play inside as well.”

“Once we start shooting, if we don’t feel it, we know we have to play the other side of it,” Jakobs said. “We did that well…We were looking for the drives a lot: ball-movement, and then driving when they’re still moving.”

Defense, unsurprisingly, proved key to the Lakers’ performance. The team clamped down on both Jordan and Grant, the Patriots’ top scorers. Grant’s inside attempts more often than not ran up against a horde of Lake Region opposition, for instance.

“Every time Jordy touched the ball, I swear there were three or four Lakers around her,” Andreasen said. “And our outside shooters, we didn’t shoot the ball much. So it looked like we were just trying to pound it inside the whole time.”

“That’s something we need to look at for next year,” Andreasen said: “The kids have to step up and knock down jumpshots. Mikaela Ryan took two shots today. Eliza Hotham had seven. Maddie West took three shots. It was just too few and far between.”

“Our kids stayed true to what we were doing, and defensively, they just did a heck of a job” Coach True said. “Grant and Bri Jordan are two outstanding players, and we did a good job deepening triangles and helping each other out and being quick to react to the ball. And they stuck with it for 32 minutes.”

“We know they to pass in to her,” Jakobs said of Grant. “So everyone was helping – that was the main thing, helping on her, because her and Bri Jordan are their top scorers.”

G-NG hashed the first four of the third, but Lake Region ultimately emerged from those eight minutes still out front. Harriman, Jakobs, True and Hancock all contributed during the stretch, though the last word did belong to the Patriots – Jordan completed a three-point play to keep her girls close at 18-22.

Play remained taut through the fourth: G-NG narrowly outpaced Lake Region, but it wouldn’t be enough to save them. Grant opened the quarter with one from the line, but True and Jakobs next added twos to snatch up a seven-point Lakers lead. Madysen West chewed a chunk out of that with a Patriots three for 26-22, though Harriman and True responded with a pair of twos.

Jordan then dropped in a two for 30-24. Seconds, minutes burned away; Grant assisted Alexa Thayer on a two for 32-28. Finally, in the waning moments, Hancock notched two frees, essentially wrapping things up at 34-28. Patriot Chelsea Davis knocked down a buzzer-beater three – but it wasn’t enough. The game ended, Lake Region taking the W.

In such a tight contest, free-throws can make the difference – and they seemed to, Thursday. The Patriots went five-for-nine from the line overall, while the Lakers went six-for-seven. “With evenly matched teams, every possession matters, every free-throw matters,” Coach True said.

“Free-throws are so important,” Jakobs said. “We practice those every day. Just being able to calm ourselves down and tune out the crowd. We do pretty well at that, I think.”

Beyond Jakobs’s 12, Chandler True finished with 10. Hancock and Harriman added six apiece. Over on the Patriots’ side of the book, Grant actually reeled in the game-high, 13. Jordan contributed six, Hotham four, West and Davis three each, and Thayer two.

The four-seed Lakers jumped to 15-5, and advanced to Saturday the 23rd’s Regional Final against Freeport. G-NG retires till next winter at 15-5. The Patriots entered the bracketing ranked first in B South, at 14-4. They smashed Spruce Mountain in the quarters to reach Lake Region.

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of every kid who puts on the uniform,” Coach True said. “They come to practice every day and focus; they believe in what we do. I give them a lot of credit.”

Lake Region also prevailed – and by a similarly tight margin, 38-34 – when the teams met in the regular season, way back in early December.

Adam Birt can be reached at abirt@keepmecurrent.com. Follow him on Twitter @CurrentSportsME.

Elizah Hotham fires off a shot.

Mikaela Ryan pushes along the baseline for G-NG; Laker Lauren Jakobs defends.

Madysen West fires off a shot for the Patriots.

Paul True, Lake Region head coach, gives his girls some insights during a break in the action.

Bri Jordan sails into a two attempt.

Rachel Shanks defends on a G-NG inbounds attempt.

Shauna Hancock, Laker freshman, splits a pair of Patriots defenders en route to the net.

Sam Fortin does what she can to push the ball inward for G-NG vs. Lake Region.

Lauren Jakobs drives for the Lakers.

Jordan Grant volleys a jumpshot for the Patriots.

Unsurprisingly, Chandler True played an excellent game for the Lakers in their win over friendly rivals G-NG.

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