Red Storm doubles up ’Jacks in hoops
SARANAC LAKE — The temperature wasn’t the only thing that was ice cold on Wednesday, as the Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake girls basketball teams combined for just one point in the first quarter at Saranac Lake High School. The Red Storm went on to win 44-21.
In an opening quarter that saw both teams struggle to sink shots, the deeper Red Storm squad stepped up its game in the last two minutes of the period, swinging the ball around the 3-point arc but failing to find the net. Saranac Lake ended the quarter up 1-0 on the first of Roslyn McClatchie’s game-high 19 points.
The Red Storm started to build a lead in the second quarter, as Kailee McCormick took a pass from Kayleigh Merrill and without even dribbling the ball put it up for an easy two to bring the home team’s lead to 6-0 midway through the second.
Tupper Lake’s Rebecca Delair finally got the Lumberjacks on the board a few seconds later when she sank a free throw at the 4:20 mark. Both teams struggled with offensive rebounds, but Saranac Lake was able to take better advantage of the opportunities late in the second quarter.
With just 1:17 left before the half, the Red Storm’s Jayda Buckley sank a 3-pointer from the right side of the arc to expand the home team lead 13-5. Buckley, who made three 3s for nine points in the game, drained another trey at the buzzer to send Saranac Lake into the half up 18-5.
After the break, both teams came out swinging in the highest-scoring quarter of the game. The Red Storm put 11 on the board, while the visitors put up 12. Tupper Lake found some energy after the half, clawing their way back into the mix with hard-earned points and pulling to within seven with just over 3 minutes left in the quarter.
Buckley made her final basket of the afternoon at the end of the third to put Saranac Lake up 29-17 after a back and forth quarter.
Going into the final 8 minutes of play, Saranac Lake again pulled away, ending the non-league game with a 44-21 win to improve to two and three overall.
Kailyn Exware, who contributed two points during the game, said she was pleased with the way the team kept their heads up and tried to fight back.
“We didn’t panic as bad, better than we’ve been [playing],” Exware said. “Our defense was way better. We had a lot of positivity, usually we just give up.”
The Lumberjacks, who have yet to win a game this season, are suffering due to a small team of just seven players and the loss of plenty of experienced seniors who graduated last spring. But coach Travis Dupuis said he was particularly happy with his girls’ defensive effort.
“I thought we played well,” he said. “We still gotta work on shooting, but we looked pretty good on defense and we had a couple of spurts where we were getting shots and it kind of picked up the team.
“Right now, we really have to work on our offense. That little stretch in the third quarter was probably the best offense we’ve played all year, so I’d like to build off of that.”
Tupper Lake, while not scoring a lot, did manage to spread the ball around. All seven players earned points, with Delair leading the way with five. Kasey Sippler and Cierra Toohey each contributed four, and the rest of the team managed to put up two apiece. Saranac Lake’s scoring was also spread around, with six of eight players getting on the board.
“It was a good win,” Saranac Lake coach Frank Johns said. “It’s a game of spurts. They got a spurt, we got a spurt. Then we started hitting them. We got some clean shots. A little pressure helped, and our man-to-man kind of got them a little too. But they didn’t quit.
“We just had to keep fighting to keep what we got, and it was good for us.”
The two teams face off again on Friday in Tupper Lake starting at 1:15 p.m.