copyright the Chronicle 12-18-2013
by Richard Creaser
ORLEANS — In a battle of two fairly evenly matched teams, the visiting Windsor Yellow Jackets spoiled the Lake Region Rangers’ home opener with a 67-59 win. Despite the loss and despite falling to 0-2 on the season, the time has not yet come to despair, Coach Joe Houston said.
“Every day is a work in progress,” Coach Houston said after the game. “We don’t have a lot of returning players with many minutes of varsity experience. We’re still trying to get our footing.”
Nicole Roy is the Rangers’ sole senior, though a solid core of sophomores and juniors should help ensure a strong program for years to come. While the team has leadership, it is also a team that is struggling to find leaders, Ranger forward Karamae Hayman-Jones said.
“There was a point where it felt like we were giving up, not playing as hard as we could be playing,” Hayman-Jones said. “We let the mistakes get us down and had trouble getting back up again. I think we have the talent to play a lot better than we played.”
Coach Houton agreed. The Rangers appeared sluggish in the first half, quickly falling behind 20-12 after the first eight minutes of play. The Rangers played a much improved second half actually outscoring the Windsor Yellow Jackets 18 to 14 though still trailing 34-30 at the half.
“We were a little tight in the first half and I think that made us look a lot slower than we are,” the coach said. “We have a lot of speed, a lot of athleticism on this team but we just didn’t seem able to set the pace of the game we needed to play. I talked to the girls about that at the break and they listened.”
Coming into the second half, the Rangers traded baskets with Windsor one for one. A field goal from Olivia King changed the tempo of the game as the Rangers battled back to take their first lead of the game midway through the third quarter. While the lead was short lived, by the end of the quarter the Rangers had battled back to a 46-46 tie.
The Rangers would again trade basket for basket, always keeping the Yellow Jackets in sight. Three more times Lake Region would take a two-point lead only to see Windsor reply in kind. A few low percentage shots finding nothing but rim suddenly reversed the Rangers’ fortunes for the worse.
All night long the Yellow Jackets had established control of rebounds under the Rangers basket. Windsor would eke out three, four and sometimes five shots before landing the basket — all with little Lake Region could do about it.
“Size is our weakness,” Coach Houston said. “But it doesn’t have to be our fatal weakness. We have probably as much if not more speed than any other team out there. As we saw in the third quarter, when we stick to our game plan, when we set the tempo, we can match up against any team.”
From a player’s perspective, the squad could also benefit from someone riding point on the court, Hayman-Jones said. The Rangers teams of years past benefited from Kylie Atwood’s ability to run traffic control on the court. While filling Atwood’s shoes is a tall order, someone to rally the troops might be just what this team needs.
“Sometimes we get caught up in the moment and let it get into our heads,” Hayman-Jones said. “We need to learn to let it go and just focus on making the plays. We know can play better than we did tonight.”
The Lake Region girls return to action on Saturday, December 21, hosting the visiting Lyndon Institute Vikings with a scheduled 1:30 p.m. start.
contact Richard Creaser at firstname.lastname@example.org