Henderson keys second-half rally for Buckfield girls

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BUCKFIELD – The defense was a constant. The only problem was defense didn’t gain the Buckfield girls’ basketball team much when it couldn’t score.

For much of the first half Wednesday, the Bucks produced solid defensive play, but still played catch-up to the Rangeley Lakers.

A couple of shots in the third quarter changed all that and helped the Bucks rally for a 39-31 win.

“I think we missed a lot of shots in the first half that were open, which led to a little bit of frustration,” said Buckfield coach Troy Eastman. “It’s hard to get up and pressure people when you don’t get some baskets. In the second half, we hit a couple of quick shots, and we were able to get up into that pressure a little bit. That really changed the momentum.”

It produced the second win of the season over the Lakers. After two wins over Vinalhaven, Rangeley (7-3) vaulted into first in the latest Western D Heals. Buckfield (6-2) was fourth.

“It’s a big win,” said junior guard Alyssa Henderson. “We came into the game thinking that we had to beat this team, because they were No. 1.”

Henderson led the Bucks with 14 points, 10 of which came in the decisive third quarter. Her three 3-pointers erased a seven-point Laker lead. Abby Jones chipped in 13.

“Coach told me at the half that I had to have confidence in my shot,” said Henderson. “Before that, I wasn’t making anything. So I just went out there with some confidence. Once I made one, I knew I could make a couple more.”

The Bucks forced 12 turnovers in the first quarter but had little to show for it. After Henderson lit the fuse on the offense, the Bucks defense took advantage of its stellar defensive play. Rangeley had 13 turnovers in the third quarter and allowed 22 points.

“We’re young and that’s something we struggle with at times,” said Rangeley coach Heidi Deery. “It was one of those nights where it was almost contagious, and that tends to be how it is with us.”

Angela White led the Lakers with 16 and put Rangeley ahead 15-8 early in the third. After Emily Eastman and Hayley White traded hoops, Henderson hit her first 3-pointer and started a 9-2 run that enabled the Bucks to tie the game, 19-19, with 5:45 left in the half.

“If someone starts doing good and showing that we can do good, everyone will start playing with confidence,” said Henderson. “It helps the whole team out.”

After Angela White scored off an inbounds pass, Henderson hit a 3-pointer to put the Bucks ahead for the first time. A Krista Jamison score had the Lakers in front briefly, but the Bucks ran off eight straight points, cashing in on a bevy of Laker turnovers. Jones scored eight straight to finish the quarter with a 30-23 lead. She added a three-point play to start the fourth.

“When Abby Jones went in and scored eight straight points at the end of the third quarter, that was the additional punch that they needed,” said Eastman.

The Lakers trimmed the lead to seven on baskets by Angela White and Samantha Olivieri, but Henderson, Jones and Eastman helped pad the lead down the stretch.

“We need composure,” said Deery, who has just two seniors and two juniors. “At times, we’ve had it, and at times, we’re not too consistent with that. It will come. We’ll play a lot of games in the next three weeks and that’s what we need.”

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