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Lakers step up late, grab first win


by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

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Lydia Swedberg goes to the basket for I-L during its 37-34 win over Berlin on Dec. 5. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
December 10, 2012
MEREDITH – For the first time in two years, the Inter-Lakes High School girls' basketball team beat a Division III opponent.

After winning just two games all of last year against Division IV Moultonborough Academy, the Lakers overcame a deficit in the final minute to secure a 37-34 win over visiting Berlin High School on Dec. 5.

"I'm very proud of the girls tonight," said I-L coach Mike Gallagher. "It could've gone either way but we were fortunate to make the plays down the stretch to pull out the win."

Berlin led 34-31 with less than a minute to play, but I-L handled its business extremely well during crunch time. Senior Alexandra Brewer scored on a layup off a feed from Mikaela O'Neil with 42 seconds left to get within one point.

Down the other end, the Mountaineers got the ball into the post but ran into the shot-blocking of I-L center Reilly Donovan. The junior sent a Berlin shot back with 30 seconds remaining, and the Lakers took over. Looking for the go-ahead shot, the ball found its way into the hands of junior Tori Burns. The guard sank a runner in the lane with just 16 seconds remaining, putting I-L ahead 35-34.

"It was nice to see that we were still attacking in that situation," said Gallagher. "We made a point of getting the girls to recognize when we had numbers on the fast break and we made some smart plays down the stretch."

Berlin took a timeout immediately following the basket, and the Mountaineers set up a play to score the potential game-winner. But O'Neil picked off a pass with 10 seconds remaining, and Burns was fouled with 2.2 seconds to play. Since I-L wasn't in the bonus, the Lakers took the ball out of bounds under their own basket. Donovan chucked a full court pass deep to kill off the remaining seconds, with Brewer catching and scoring at the buzzer for the 37-34 win.

"I think this was a big step forward," said Gallagher, whose team lost to Mascoma Valley, 29-22, in the season-opener. "Coming off a season where we only had two wins, I think that was in the back of their minds a bit. So to pull out a tough win like this is big for us."

The Lakers got off to a strong start on the night, as O'Neil scored four points and Brewer added a bucket to put the hosts ahead 6-2.

It was 6-6 after one quarter, but with the Lakers moving out of a 3-2 zone into a man-to-man defense, Berlin took advantage. The Mountaineers opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run, with sophomore Kristy Brewer finally bringing it to an end with a basket with 4:32 left before halftime.

Berlin led 20-13 in the waning seconds of the half, but Alexandra Brewer went the length of the court and banked in a deep three-pointer at the buzzer to send the Lakers into the locker room down just 20-16 at intermission.

I-L came out firing in the third quarter, as Donovan, O'Neil, Burns and Alexandra Brewer all scored as part of an 8-0 run to put the hosts ahead 24-20 with 3:48 left.

"We came out in the second half and got off to a good start," said Gallagher.

From there, neither team led by more than four points the rest of the way. Donovan scored seven straight I-L points at one point, putting the Lakers ahead 31-29 with 4:18 left in the fourth quarter. But Berlin's Jillian Williams scored five straight for the visitors, giving the Mountaineers a 34-31 lead with 2:42 to play.

"Things got away from us a little bit," admitted Gallagher. "We missed some easy buckets and they took advantage."

That set up the strong finish, with Alexandra Brewer scoring a pair of baskets in the final minute and Burns sinking the game-winner to seal the deal.

Donovan scored nine points and hauled down 13 rebounds in the win, while Alexandra Brewer paced the scoring load with 11 points. O'Neil had six points and eight rebounds while Burns chipped in six points of her own. Kristy Brewer had an outstanding night at the point, especially in the second half when she helped jumpstart an offense that struggled in the early going.

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