Eagle girls’ hoop falls to Lake Region in Barre

BARRE — An outstanding and somewhat unexpected season ended for the Mount Abraham Union High School girls’ basketball team on Monday, when No. 4 Lake Region edged the top-seeded Eagles, 38-37, in a Division II semifinal at the Barre Auditorium.
The loss halted the 20-3 Eagles’ 19-game winning streak as well as dashed their hopes for back-to-back titles.
But after Mount Abe graduated eight seniors, — including four starters, one a 1,600-point scorer — from the 2018 championship squad, Coach Connie LaRose agreed a 20-win season, a No. 1 seed and a trip to Barre should be celebrated.
“I couldn’t be more proud of them,” LaRose said. “They won 19 games in a row for crying out loud. That’s no small feat. They’re the Lake Division champions, undefeated in the Lake.”
But the Eagles could not hold the 30-20 lead they earned by scoring the first seven points of the second half, and ultimately scored only 15 points after intermission.
While 19-4 Lake Region deployed a dozen players, the Eagles went only six deep, and LaRose said the Rangers might have worn her team down.
“While they were no better player for player, they certainly had a lot more depth,” LaRose said.
Like other teams have done recently against Mount Abe, Lake Region used a tightly packed zone and dared the Eagles to shoot from outside, not their strongest point. And the Eagles turned over the ball 24 times, often while trying to attack the basket — according to LaRose.
“We didn’t get it done. Too many mistakes,” she said.
Still, after the Rangers took the lead in the fourth quarter, buckets by seniors Jalen Cook and Cora Funke and junior Chloe Johnston put the Eagles back on top by three, and they still led by one with just under a minute left.
After Lake Region went up by two, Johnston had a chance to tie the game with two free throws with about 10 seconds left. She hit the first and missed the second, but the Eagles rebounded and had one last chance to go ahead, but the shot wouldn’t drop.
That kind of effort was the secret to the Eagles’ success this winter, LaRose said.
“They’re scrappy. They never quit on anything. They never quit on themselves. They never quit on each other,” she said.
Cook led the team with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and Johnston scored 12. Senior sisters Molly and Jess Murray contributed eight and six rebounds, respectively.
LaRose described the Eagles’ tremendous effort.
“You know, it was just a lot of heart,” she said. “There were a lot of tears in the locker room last night, but they left it all on the floor.”
Andy Kirkaldy may be reached at [email protected].

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