ORLEANS-The Lake Region Lady Rangers and Windsor Yellow Jackets have waged some epic battles in championship play since 2007. The pair of perennial championship contenders have made a habit out of playing big games against each other. Windsor has had the last word winning three of four title clashes. They have combined a strong skill set with a little good fortune, as they have played the LR girls with the Rangers down a key player in the last two title games. While championship appearances are probably not in the cards anymore for either team, they still play each other tooth and nail when they lace up the sneakers.
That was the case in Orleans Wednesday night as Windsor held off a late Ranger rally for a 44-37 victory. Lake Region broke to a 7-0 lead to start the contest. A long jumper by senior Cailyn Gallup and a running drive in the paint by Kylie Atwood helped get the home team on top early. Sloppy play with multiple turnovers seemed to aid Windsor, and they closed to within 9-4 after one stanza.
Atwood, who spent her off season recovering from ACL surgery, is regaining her form. Kylie hit a nifty ten footer and followed that with an eight foot jumper off glass in the second quarter. She had help as juniors Allie Hall and Ashley Locke played very aggressively and gave their teammates repeat chances due to their defensive hustle and rebounding. At intermission LRU had a 21-17 lead.
The third period saw the LR offense having problems getting into rhythm. Windsor, behind veteran guards Abigal Wright and Kim White, blitzed the Rangers with an 11-2 third period run making it 28-23 YellowJackets heading into the fourth period.
Lake Region got down by as many as 13 before they rallied in the last three minutes behind junior Drew Nealâ€™s two straight bombs from beyond the arc. Cailyn Gallup came up with a pair of steals and two hoops to unsettle the visitors as LR chopped eight points off the lead quickly. However, the Rangers got no closer than five the rest of the way.
Head man Mark Tinker had this to say afterward, â€śWe probably should have gone to full court pressure earlier. We went flat in the third quarter. We just couldnâ€™t seem to get any kind of energy. We started out with good energy in the first half but it doesnâ€™t take a rocket scientist to say we didnâ€™t put much up in the third quarter with only four points. We have been suffering from that this year and I think some of it is mental toughness. I think weâ€™re not ready to go for the full game. We do play better with more tempo because of our size. I donâ€™t think weâ€™re quite ready to play at that pace. Kylie is coming along but sheâ€™s not quite ready to play at full throttle. When we get everybody on the same page, and we have not worked on much pressure defense yet, we will be fine. Weâ€™ve talked about pressure and have used it in bits and pieces. We are diverse and have groups that are pretty quick and we can go from very quick to very methodical and that is going to vary with the combinations we have on the floor.â€ť
The year is only three games into the season so rotations arenâ€™t set yet. Tinker continues, â€ťWe started a new lineup tonight as we look for the right combination. Weâ€™re trying get Kylie back on track and she has a while before sheâ€™s back all the way. Iâ€™ve had her on the stationary bike when sheâ€™s out of the game. She can keep loose during those breaks.â€ť
The Rangers drop to 1-2 on the year while Windsor ups their record to 3-0. LRU was paced by Neal with 15, Gallup added 11 with Atwood hitting for seven. Windsorâ€™s Wright had 16 with running-mate White adding 15. Allison Wilcox had nine and was dominant on the glass, pulling down 14 boards.
The Ranger girls return to action in 2012 taking on BFA Fairfax next Tuesday.
In JV action, the young Rangers moved to 3-0 as they beat Windsor by seven. In the late moments of the game, an agreement by both coaches led to a show of good sportsmanship. With players getting sponsors raising money for Cancer based on points scored, both teams allowed the other to score unimpeded to add to the coffers to be given to battle cancer.