AUGUSTA — The first game of the tourney can often be a nerve-filled affair . Shaking the jitters and the rust quickly becomes a top priority.
That wasn't the case for the Rangeley girls' basketball team Tuesday. The top-ranked Lakers looked ready and fine-tuned as they dispatched Islesboro 52-28 in their Western D quarterfinal.
"We've done that before," said Rangeley coach Heidi Deery about having slow starts in the tournament. "We didn't really want to do that today. We really wanted to come out and play. They're going to make mistakes. There are things that will happen that we don't want to happen, but the group on the floor has to be in control of (the mental aspect). We've really been trying to stay positive and stay in control."
The Lakers were in command for much of their quarterfinal with the Eagles. Islesboro has never won in Augusta and were overwhelmed early by Rangeley defensive pressure and size inside.
"I definitely think we came out strong and set the tone for the rest of the way," said sophomore forward Taylor Esty.
Rangeley built a 17-2 lead in the first. Esty had eight of those points as the Lakers utilized its size inside.
"We wanted to come out strong and work the ball inside and get the lead on them," said Esty.
With three six-footers, the Lakers had a distinct advantage against the Eagles, which had just one player taller than 5-10.
"We need to do that more," said Deery about utilizing its size. "We do have an advantage. We're young in there, but we do have an advantage and we need to use that."
Esty finished with 13 points while Seve Deery-DeRaps also had 13, including a pair of 3's. Tori Letarte added 10 for the Lakers (18-1). Alexandra Craig led the Eagles (9-11) with 15.
"We just really had to come out and play our game," said Deery. "We hadn't seen Islesboro. They had had some scores that were both ways. So we didn't look beyond them at all. We came prepared to play them."
The Laker defense forced nine turnovers in the first quarter. That gave the offense the jump it needed to put the Eagles in the hole early.
"I think we flustered them," said Esty. "We were talking a lot on defense."
Rangeley scored the first seven points of the game. Deery-DeRaps started things with a steal. Then Blayke Morin scored in the post and Esty finished off a leaner. After a Deery-DeRaps free throw, it was 7-0. Islesboro didn't get its first field goal until a Craig drive with 4:54 left in the half.
After that, Esty hit two free throws and then scored back-to-back in the post for six straight points. Letarte and Abby Abbott hit late jumpers to make it 17-2 after one.
"We really wanted to get our offense going, and I thought we did that for the most part," said Deery.
The Eagles hung around in the second with a 6-2 spurt that got them within 21-8, but a Deery-DeRaps 3 answered that. Then Esty scored on the baseline and Deery-DeRaps hit another jumper that led to a 29-10 lead at the half.
Rangeley never looked back after that. Deery-DeRaps, Abbott, Letarte, Esty and Morin all scored in the third to maintain the lead. The Lakers held the Eagles to just seven points for a 45-17 lead after three.