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Lakers dump Gilford for first time in six years

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Senior Margaux Dickinson rips a rebound out of the air in traffic during the host Lakers' 55-44 win over defending state champion Gilford on Jan. 26 in Meredith. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
January 30, 2017
MEREDITH For the first time in six years, or 2,198 days to be precise, Inter-Lakes High School found itself on the winning side against local foe Gilford High School.

The host Lakers scored a season-high in points, building an early lead and never trailing throughout on Jan. 26. The result was a convincing 55-44 win over the visiting Golden Eagles in a key Division III tilt that had could have major postseason implications come the end of February.

"It was a great game for the girls," said I-L head coach Mike Gallagher, whose team improved to 4-8 on the season with the victory. "We're really trying to make a push for the playoffs and every game is critical."

It was the first win for Inter-Lakes against Gilford, last year's D-III state champion, since Jan. 20, 2011. That I-L team, led by senior standout Angie Michaloski, picked up a 47-29 road win over the Eagles, marking the Lakers' third win in a row in the series. But Gilford has owned a decisive edge since, capturing 10 in a row before last week's defeat.

"The shots weren't falling for us," admitted Gilford senior Kaitlyn Van Bennekum. "(Inter-Lakes) shot the ball well and their whole team did a good job rebounding. We should've done better rebounding and out in transition."

The Lakers stormed out to an 8-0 lead and withstood a few Gilford runs throughout the night. The 55 points was a season-high, topping the 49 points scored in a win over Franklin. Sophomore Jessalyn Brown led I-L with 15 points, while freshman guard Mollie Durand, making her third career varsity start, joined Brown in double figures with a 12 point outpouring. Julia Gintof had eight points while Emma Wheeler tossed in seven for the balanced Lakers.

"We've been shooting the ball much better of late. Same goes for rebounding," Gallagher offered. "You see the improvements from the kids every time out. Where they've gone from the beginning of the season has been impressive to see."

The Eagles (5-6) got as close to 31-27 in the third quarter, as a 6-0 run with hoops from Stevie Orton and Shelby Cole getting Gilford within shouting range with 3:23 remaining. But I-L responded with an 8-0 run to push the advantage back to double figures. Wheeler hit a pair of offensive put backs, while Brown hit a jumper and sank two free throws to push I-L on top, 39-27.

Mollie Durand scored seven of her 12 points in the fourth quarter, as I-L did its best to hold on against a determined Gilford team. The Eagles got within 50-41 after an Olivia Harris three-pointer and a put back from Orton with 4:01 to play.

But neither team could do much the rest of the way. The squads combined to go scoreless for over three minutes of game time, and it wasn't until there was 52 seconds remaining that Durand's layup put things out of reach.

"We had a couple of good looks (during the scoreless stretch) and I think if we got a couple in a row there that would've boosted our confidence the rest of the way," Van Bennekum said.

Gilford shot just 25 percent from the floor, with Orton once again leading the Eagles with 17 points and 17 rebounds. Cole, Harris and Van Bennekum had eight points a piece, with Van Bennekum hauling down six rebounds. Taryn Breton pulled down seven boards on the night for the visitors, which committed 26 turnovers.

"Stevie Orton is a heck of a player so that was quite a task for our girls to try and limit her as best as possible," lauded Gallagher.

Inter-Lakes hosts Prospect Mountain on Friday night, while Gilford travels to St. Thomas Aquinas.

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