AUGUSTA – Rangeley practiced what it does best this past week. The Lakers also prepared for the worst.

After three straight tourney games in Class D South that went completely Rangeley’s way, the Lakers were faced with a different circumstance Saturday.

Shead turned the Class D state championship game into a slower, halfcourt battle, and that’s not exactly Rangeley’s style.

“As much as we didn’t do the things that got us here and that we wanted to do, we kept our composure,” Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said. “We didn’t have people go off on their own and try to do stuff. I think that’s a credit to them. Because we’re a young team, that can happen, but Blayke (Morin) and Maddie (Egan) really held up their end for leadership and kept everybody composed.”

The Lakers usually like to press and get a jump on the opposition. The press often creates turnovers and feeds the Rangeley offense. Shead was able to handle the Lakers’ press effectively and force Rangeley into a halfcourt game. The Tigers also did a good job with their zone and frustrated the Lakers in the second half.

“We weren’t making shots outside and we couldn’t get the ball inside,” said Egan, one of just two seniors on a Rangeley team that has only three upperclassmen. “We needed to get some shots outside.”

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Egan hit a 3 early in the second half and scored again to make it 21-11. Rangeley appeared in the driver’s seat but the drought soon began. After a Sydney Royce drive with 3:58 left in the third, the Lakers didn’t hit another field goal until Morin scored on a rebound with 3:19 remaining. Rangeley had just one field goal in the final quarter but managed to shut out Shead from the floor, 0-for-10.

“Our defense is what we practice, man-to-man, every day,” Egan said. “That’s all we play. That’s what we’re known for. That really helps a lot.”

As Shead continued to trim the lead in the second half and Rangeley offense continued to sputter, the Lakers didn’t panic. As much as a few clutch plays helped boost the lead, the leadership of veterans Morin, Egan and playmaking guard Natasha Haley proved critical.

“We just had to stay composed and keep our composure and keep battling on the boards like we did,” Morin said.

Morin had the lone field goal of the fourth and Egan hit two key free throws. Haley also hit a free throw. It wasn’t pretty, but Rangeley found a way to win.

“We wanted to work the ball and then take the shot from the perimeter,” Deery said. “We started to come down and take the first shot or work it too much. We just couldn’t find that balance.”

The Lakers didn’t give up and didn’t panic. They’d prepared against the zone and expected it. It was just a matter of making the plays when it mattered.

“Even though we don’t like to do it, we practiced it against the varsity boys and some of the alumni,” Morin said. “It’s not like we hadn’t seen it. We’d been practicing it all week.”

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