In girls basketball: Lady Rangers defeat Olympians in season opener

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Emily Lawson (center) dishes in traffic against a young, aggressive Olympians squad Friday.  Also pictured are (from left) Karamae Hayman-Jones, Kayleigh Trojanowskio, Kaitlyn Lafaille, and Sara Walker.  Lawson scored 11 points against the Olympians.  Photos by David Dudley
Emily Lawson (center) dishes in traffic against a young, aggressive Olympians squad Friday. Also pictured are (from left) Karamae Hayman-Jones, Kayleigh Trojanowskio, Kaitlyn Lafaille, and Sara Walker. Lawson scored 11 points against the Olympians. Photos by David Dudley

copyright the Chronicle December 10, 2014

by David Dudley

BARTON — The Lake Region Union High School Lady Rangers won their season opener against the Oxbow Olympians, 49-35, Friday. The final score may be misleading, as this game was a hard-fought, neck-and-neck battle up until the final moments of the fourth quarter.

Led by senior Tyrah Urie’s 16 points, with contributions from Emily Lawson (11 points), and Megan Menard (8 points), the Rangers put the clamps on the Olympians early in the game and never let up.

They ran a number of traps, double-teams, and an intimidating full-court press that had the Olympians scrambling. The Rangers’ aggressive defense forced the Olympians to turn the ball over often.

When asked about his team’s performance, Olympians Coach Barry Emerson sounded slightly disappointed.

“They played like the young team that we are,” Coach Emerson said. “We’ve got five sophomores and three juniors. That’s pretty young for us.”

But the Olympians, led by senior Amanda Wheeler, who scored 11 points in the game, wouldn’t go quietly.

They responded to the Rangers’ aggressive defense with full-court presses of their own, making it difficult for the Rangers to capitalize on the turnovers they were creating.

As the first quarter ended, the Lady Rangers held a slim one-point lead.

The Rangers Katie Menard kicked the second quarter off with a bang. She pushed hard to the right baseline, where she banked in a layup to give the Rangers a 12-10 lead. After the Rangers made two more baskets, Emerson had seen enough. He called a time out to break the Rangers rhythm.

Then Rebecca Towle and Kaitlyn Lafaille stole the ball on two consecutive Ranger possessions, which led to a tit for tat exchange by these fierce competitors.

The Olympians closed the gap to three points, 22-19, as the first half came to a close.

“We wanted to set the tone, early on,” Rangers Coach Joe Houston said. “We lost our first game last year to the Olympians. Then we had a 0-4 start. So our girls were really trying to get off on the right foot this year.”

The second half was a bit crueler to the Olympians. In the opening moments, they had a number of good looks, but just couldn’t get the ball to go down. The Lady Rangers were up to their old tricks, double-teaming and trapping Olympian ball handlers. Though a number of turnovers and hasty attempts resulted, the Rangers couldn’t pull away.

Kaite Neal focuses as she prepares to shoot a free throw in the Rangers season opener.  The Rangers produced 16 points from the line.  Tyrah Urie watches on.
Kaite Neal focuses as she prepares to shoot a free throw in the Rangers season opener. The Rangers produced 16 points from the line. Tyrah Urie watches on.

With 3:40 left in the third quarter, the Olympians took the lead, 25-24.

Then the Rangers Becky Doucet was fouled as she took the ball to the hoop. She made the first of two free throws, to tie the game at 25. She missed the second.

The Rangers took a 31-29 lead with 1:33 left in the third quarter. The Olympians had the chance to tie on the next possession, but after blowing a layup attempt, the Rangers carried that two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Little by little, the Rangers pulled away in the fourth quarter. The Olympians suffered a three-minute scoring drought. What was a two-point advantage for the Rangers as the third quarter expired turned into a 14-point victory.

The Olympians were plagued by turnovers all game. Some were forced, others were the kind of slip-ups one expects from a young team trying to find its footing.

In the end, the potent scoring combination of Urie and Lawson, and the all around hustle of the Rangers, proved too much for the young Olympians. Add in a 16-25 effort from the line — which makes up one point more than the margin of victory — and the Rangers were in position to clinch their first win of the new season.

But this game wasn’t a blow-out. These two teams went tit for tat throughout. The Rangers came out on top because they wanted it more.

contact David Dudley at [email protected]

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