AUGUSTA — Heidi Deery had an offensive plan for her team to start the second half Thursday.
So did her daughter.
The Rangeley girls' basketball coach was looking for some patient offensive execution. Seve Deery-DeRaps was looking to shoot. Both got the results they wanted.
The sophomore guard hit three consecutive 3s and had 14 points in the third quarter, helping to lift the Lakers to a 59-43 victory over Forest Hills in the Western D semifinal round.
"I was saying, 'Let's execute,'" Deery said. "Then, she hit that second one, and I said to (assistant coach) Jessica (Ellingwood-Simpson), 'Or we can just shoot 3s and keep hitting them.' Sometimes that's how it goes. As a coach, you have to decided if you're going to let that happen. Sometimes a kid gets in that zone and you have to let them go."
The Tigers were within two points at the half, but when Forest Hills tried to defend the Lakers' advantage under the hoop in the third quarter, Deery-DeRaps was open on the outside.
"My shot was just in the flow of the offense," Deery-DeRaps said. "So I was open. I just took it, and it felt good."
Her hot shooting helped Rangeley turn a 23-21 halftime lead into a 48-35 advantage after three quarters. The Lakers didn't look back, earning a trip to Saturday's Western D final against rival Richmond.
The Western D final will be the Lakers' second straight regional championship game against the Bobcats, and their sixth in the last eight years. Rangeley and Richmond split in the regular season, and the Lakers have won 12 in a row since losing to the Bobcats.
"I think the atmosphere brings up our intensity," said senior guard Abby Abbott, who along with her injured sister Jenney are the Lakers' lone seniors. "We're getting ready. We want it."
Deery-DeRaps was just 4 years old when her mother returned to coaching. She's been around the team on its many previous trips to Augusta.
"She really wants to make something special happen here at some point in her career," Deery said. "I think she was a little bit upset with herself after picking up her third foul (in the second quarter)."
Taylor Esty finished with 21 to lead the Lakers (19-1). Deery-DeRaps had 18. Tori Letarte added seven. Kori Coro led the Tigers (16-4) with 14, while Anna Carrier added nine.
Rangeley's 13-2 run to open the second half that put the Tigers behind for good. Leading only 23-21, the Lakers hit nine of their first 10 shots in the third. Forest Hills shot 1-for-5 to start.
Esty scored in the post to start the second half. A Haley Cuddy 3 made it 25-24, but that would be as close as the Tigers would get. Deery-DeRaps hit her first 3 to make it 28-24. After a Blayke Morin basket on a rebound, Deery-DeRaps hit another 3 to make it 33-24.
"I came out with more confidence than I'd had," Deery-DeRaps said. "When I hit that first 3, I was like, 'Alright, let's go.' I was ready."
Her third 3 made it 36-24 with 5:10 left in the quarter. Forest Hills got a 3 from Coro, but Deery-DeRaps scored back-to-back baskets and Morin added a hoop for a 42-28 lead.
"After I started hitting 3s, Blayke and Taylor started outletting the ball," Deery-DeRaps said. "They had the good moves inside. I felt like, 'Okay, let's keep it up and don't let them back in.'"
Forest Hills was within 48-35 to start the fourth and got a Coro basket to cut the lead to 11. Rangeley then ran off seven in a row. The Tigers missed its next nine shots and went 2-for-14 in the fourth.
"We felt like we needed to bring up the intensity in the second half," Deery-DeRaps said. "We definitely did that. Everyone did that."
Rangeley opened the lead early. Though Forest Hills started off with a 5-0 advantage, the Lakers used a 10-2 lead to build a 12-9 lead after one. The Lakers forced six turnovers and dominated the inside.
Esty led the charge in the second quarter with eight points as the smaller Tigers struggled to defend Rangeley's trio of 6-footers. Forest Hills hung around though, hitting some shots to keep within reach. Though Rangeley's size was an advantage inside, the Tigers' small guards were tough for the Lakers to keep up with at times.
"They have all guards," said Deery, who didn't want her team chasing the Tigers on defense. "So it's kind of a mismatch. It's as much a mismatch for us as it is for them."
Rangeley got the lead to as many as seven in the second, but a 3 by Keely Taylor and back-to-back hoops by Anna Carrier to finish the half put the Tigers within 23-21.
"I wasn't really happy with how we ended the half," Deery said. "I felt like we had built a lead and kind of let them back in."
She said she decided not to dwell on that but focus her team on the second half. She stressed that the Lakers would have runs and that Rangeley just needed to play solid positional defense and play their game.
"I felt potentially our runs could be more devastating to them," said Deery.
Rangeley hopes to continue its momentum against the defending champions on Saturday. The Lakers haven't won a regional title since 2004.
"I know we need to come ready to play," said Abbott. "If we play with confidence nothing can stop us."