BANGOR — It was a championship 39 years and five painful close calls in the making.
Led by senior center Tiana-Jo Carter, Lake Region finally won its first state Class B basketball championship since 1975, and its first after five title game losses in the last eight years, with a 56-47 victory over Mount Desert Island Friday night at the Cross Insurance Center.
Carter, the 6-foot-2 Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist, dominated the second half and finished with 21 points, 14 rebounds, seven blocks and three steals.
“I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates, and here we are with the Gold Ball that I’ve worked my whole life for and it’s incredible,” Carter said.
Hannah Shaw led MDI (19-3) with 13 points.
The Lakers, who had lost the last two state finals to Presque Isle, emerged from a see-saw first half with a 23-21 lead.
They took control in the third quarter using penetration by guards Sarah and Sierra Hancock (12 points) and Jordan Turner (10 points) to open up opportunities for Carter in the paint and off the offensive glass.
“We wanted to be the aggressor tonight,” Lake Region coach Paul True said. “We wanted to attack the rim. I thought in the second quarter, we dealt with a ittle bit of fatigue, and I thought that we stopped attacking the basket. So at halftime that was our focus, go to the rim looking to score, and if T’s player left her, of course, we could get her the basketball.”
Lake Region (21-1) led by two when Sierra Hancock hit a 3-pointer and Carter put back her own miss to make it 30-23. A Sierra Myrick 3-pointer briefly made it a four-point game, but Carter answered with back-to-back putbacks to give the Lakers an eight-point cushion.
Carter’s turnaround and putback to start the fourth preceded a Turner hoop that increased the lead to 43-33.
That margin went as high as 13 before Carter fell in a heap under the Lakers’ basket after twisting her left ankle going up for a rebound. Carter limped to the bench and returned to the game moments later, but not before a drive by Sarah Hancock pushed the lead to 51-37 with 2:18 left and alleviated all Laker fans fears of another squander.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” True said. “All of the folks back home have been so supportive through all the years. We’re finally bringing back the Gold Ball for everybody to enjoy.”