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Lakers hold off pesky Winnisquam for key win

by Jeff Lajoie
Sports Reporter

Sophomore Julia Gintof leaps to make a block on the ball for a key defensive play in the visiting Lakers' 53-45 victory over Winnisquam on Friday night in Tilton. Jeff Lajoie. (click for larger version)
February 12, 2017
TILTON With both teams looking for an important win, Friday night's Lakes Region showdown between Inter-Lakes and Winnisquam came down to the end.

The visiting Lakers continued their path towards a potential playoff berth however, stealing a key road victory by ending the game on a 7-0 run to secure a 53-45 win over the Bears in an NHIAA Division III contest. The put Inter-Lakes at 6-10 overall entering this week, as the squad looks to climb into the D-III tournament.

Things didn't look like they'd be quite so hard for the Lakers for much of the night. The visitors led by as many as 15 points in the first half and held a 41-27 lead with 1:50 left in the third quarter. But pounding the ball inside to bigs Laura Harmon and Ashley Chamberlain eventually paid off for Winnisquam (1-16 overall), as the pair scored in the post and also put several I-L players in foul trouble in the second half.

Winnisquam's Megan Goodridge started the comeback with four straight points, while Harmon, who finished with a team-high 16 points on the night, hit a pair of free throws to pull the Bears within 42-36 entering the fourth quarter.

The Bears continued to claw back after a three-point play from Harmon, and she added a jumper with 6:28 to play to get Winnisquam within 43-41.

The Lakers responded with a Jessalyn Brown free throw and a layup from Julia Gintof to push the advantage to 46-41 with 4:38 left, but again, the Bears weren't going away. Chamberlain hit a pair from the charity stripe and Shannon Goodwin buried a baseline jumper that made it just a one-point game, down 46-45 with 2:52 remaining.

Winnisquam head coach Bob McNutt was busy subbing Chamberlain and Harmon in and out for offensive and defensive situations as the pair were also in foul trouble, but Harmon finally picked up her fifth with 3:58 remaining and was forced to sit the rest of the way.

The Lakers never let Winnisquam all the way back however, as they responded after the gap closed to just one point with the 7-0 run that closed out the game. Riding the play of precocious freshman Emma Wheeler (game-high 19 points), Inter-Lakes got into a rhythm and got to the foul line late by attacking the basket. Wheeler, Gintof and Taylor Ambrose all sank free throws in the waning minutes, while an offensive rebound putback hoop from freshman Mollie Durand also helped secure the game. I-L held Winnisquam off the board over the final 2:51 en route to the 53-45 win.

Inter-Lakes came out on fire, using a 10-0 run in the second quarter to take a 20-8 lead. Wheeler was the catalyst early, as she pressured the Winnisquam defense and found herself at the foul line early and often. The lead grew to 24-9 after a Mollie Durand layup with 3:18 remaining, though the Bears closed the half with some momentum thanks to a three-pointer from Meghan Cote with 13 seconds left that pulled the home team within 29-17 at the break.

The lead went to 41-27 in the third thanks to the play of Wheeler and Brown (nine points) before Winnisquam settled things and got going offensively to make the final quarter interesting.

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