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Dragons back in hunt for league title with win over Adams



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Senior Marissa Secontine against Adams. Photo by J. St. Henry (click for larger version)
January 25, 2012 - By Joe St. Henry

Review Editor

Big shots by two seniors and clutch free throws by a freshman sealed a comeback win for Lake Orion over league leader Rochester Adams on Jan. 19, 43-42.

The Lady Dragons handed the Highlanders their first OAA White loss by going on a 17-2 run during the second half, led by the shooting of captains Laura Turnbull and Marissa Secontine, who scored 15 and 11 points respectively that night.

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With the game on the line, guard Hannah Hamay then hit three free throws, the final two with 3.5 seconds left to give Lake Orion a four point lead. The Highlanders nailed a three-point bomb from near mid-court as the clock ran out, but the Lady Dragons survived with the dramatic one-point win.

"It was a great, seesaw, back-and-forth game," said Head Coach Steve Roberts. "The girls redeemed themselves and now they're back in the hunt."

Lake Orion's girls started slow, falling behind 8-2 early in the game. The team buckled down on defense and patiently ran its offense, however, to climb back into the contest. The Lady Dragons outscored Adams 6-2 to end the half, but the Highlanders still held a 20-18 lead.

Two free throws by Secontine 20 seconds into the third quarter tied the game at 20 a piece. But aggressive defense by Adams spurred them on to a 9-0 run, prompting Roberts to call a timeout.

"I told the girls that our shots just weren't dropping," he said. "They just had to continue doing what they do," Roberts said.

The coach's encouragement worked. Lake Orion's defense clamped down, got steals and scored easy baskets, Roberts said. The Lady Dragons also managed the clock effectively.

Lake Orion scored 11 straight, highlighted by a Secontine three-pointer and Turnbull's buzzer beater from the outside that put their team up 30-29 after three periods.

"Our post players (Secontine, Turnbull and Emilie Kipp - 7 points) were open underneath and they did a nice job moving to open space," the coach said. "We also spread their defense out, which opened up the middle."

The week prior, Lake Orion took close leads into the fourth quarter of two basketball games and lost both. Roberts was keenly aware of this during the timeout between quarters, but did not want to discuss that.

"I really didn't say much to them - I just wanted them to continue playing the way they were," he said. "I did remind them to take care of the ball, rebound and hit their free throws down the stretch."

The Lady Dragons scored six more to start the final quarter and then the game got interesting. Adams still had some fight left, scrapped for lose balls and eventually tied the game at 37 on two free throws with 1:56 left.

A few seconds later, Turnbull found some open space at the top of the key on an inbounds pass and was fouled on a breakaway layup. Her free throw put Lake Orion up by three. With 48 seconds left, however, Adams worked the ball inside to make it a 40-39 game.

The Highlanders got the ball back and kicked it out for an outside shot, but Secontine leveled her opponent, who promptly missed the front end of a 1 and 1 opportunity. A scrum ended up a jump ball and Lake Orion had possession. Roberts was forced to call a timeout when his team could not inbound the ball with 24 seconds left.

That is when the freshman stepped up. Hamay broke free for a breakaway opportunity and she was fouled. She made one of two shots to put her team up 41-39 with 13.5 seconds on the clock.

An over-and-back call on Adams gave the Lady Dragons the ball and Hamay was fouled again. She then hit both shots to put Lake Orion up by four points with 3.5 seconds left. A collective sigh of relief could be heard from the visiting team's parents.

With the victory seemingly in hand, Roberts and his coaches implored the team to avoid fouling. Lake Orion turned the ball over, however, and that is when the Highlander player hit the unlikely bomb from just inside half court, but the clock ran out. Game over.

"Afterwards, I told the team they played a great game," Roberts said. "We play Adams again at home later in the season. We can still win the league if we run the table."

The girls' basketball team's record stands at 7-4 (4-2 OAA White).

Lake Orion has two home games this week, versus Oxford on Tuesday and Troy Athens on Friday.

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