Lake Region senior Melissa Bonenfant (10) celebrates with her teammates after their 42-34 win over Freeport in the Class B South regional final. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)
PORTLAND — If there’s been one constant through the years for Lake Region’s success in girls’ basketball, it’s been defense — an in-your-face, full-court-pressure, nothing-comes-easy defense.
That defense was on full display Saturday afternoon in the Class B South final at Cross Insurance Arena.
Fourth-seeded Lake Region ended third-seeded Freeport’s magical season with a 42-34 victory, holding the Falcons to two baskets in the second half on 2-for-26 shooting (7.7 percent).
“I just can’t say enough about the kids’ preparation,” Lake Region coach Paul True said. “They stayed true to what we do and what we believe in. I just can’t say enough about our kids. Tough kids.”
It’s the Lakers’ first regional title since 2014, when they also won the state title. Lake Region (16-5) will play Winslow in the state championship game at 7 p.m. Friday at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
Freeport (16-5) was playing in its first regional championship game since 1976, when the Falcons won the Class C state title.
“Everything we did today was contested,” Freeport coach Mike Hart said. “Every single thing we did.”
The game was tight throughout. Freeport forced the Lakers into 25 turnovers. But as the game wore on, the Lakers’ defense took over.
“That’s what we do, that’s what we preach,” True said. “Defensively, we closed out with high hands, and every shot they took, they were looking at high hands.”
Chandler True led the Lakers with 15 points and was presented with the Mike DiRenzo Award, given to the tournament’s outstanding player.
Caroline Smith led Freeport with 10 points.
Lake Region was ahead 21-20 at halftime. Then the Lakers took control in the third quarter.
True hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 24-20, then followed a Freeport miss with a cutting layup off a nice pass from Aisley Sturk. A Lauren Jakobs foul shot made it 27-20 before Megan Cormier put in an offensive rebound to end a Freeport scoring drought of 5:51. During that time, the Falcons missed eight shots.
“I liked the looks we were getting on offense,” Hart said. “Unfortunately, sometimes the ball just doesn’t want to go in the hole.”
After Freeport’s Allie Goodman hit two free throws, Lake Region closed out the quarter with an 8-0 run. Rachel Shanks (11 points) sank a transition 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 35-24.
“We knew they could come back any time,” said Chandler True, noting that Freeport rallied in the second half to beat the Lakers in the regular season. “We knew we needed to calm down. We got this game, we need to trust each other and we need to get this done.”
The Falcons pulled within 38-34 with 50 seconds remaining on two foul shots by Johanna Bogue Marlow. But Shauna Hancock answered with two free throws of her own, and the Lakers regained their composure.
“It’s crazy,” said Jakobs, who had seven points and nine rebounds. “It doesn’t feel real right now. I think this whole season, we’ve been preparing for it. To finally make it is really amazing.”
Freeport sophomore Caroline Smith (20) and Lake Region senior Lauren Jakobs (22) both go for loose ball during the first half of the Class B South regional final. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)Lake Region celebrates its 42-34 win over Freeport in the Class B South regional final. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)Freeport players react to losing to Lake Region during the Class B South regional final as they watch the Lakers cut down the net in celebration. (Brianna Soukup/Portland Press Herald)