AUGUSTA — As the defending regional champions, the Rangeley Lakers know it can take some time to adapt to the spacious Augusta Civic Center and that a slow start doesn’t necessarily spell doom.

The Lakers got a healthy reminder on Thursday, shaking off a sputtering start against Forest Hills and dominating the second half in a 45-32 victory.

Blayke Morin led Rangeley (6-1) with 19 points, seven rebounds, four steals and four blocked shots. Caitlin Logston paced Forest Hills (4-3) with 20 points, 12 rebounds and four steals.

The game had been originally scheduled for Wednesday morning as part of the Capital City Hoop Classic, but Tuesday’s storm prevented the two teams from traveling to Augusta for the early tip time.

Since time on the ACC floor is considered so valuable for those hoping to play there when the tournament rolls around in February, both schools agreed to stage their girls/boys doubleheader a day later.

Whether it was the schedule change or the surroundings, Rangeley seemed a bit disjointed in the early going, making just three of 11 shots in the first quarter. Forest Hills packed in its zone to combat Morin inside, but then a nine-point second quarter from Rangeley’s 6-foot-2 senior leader propelled the Lakers into the lead to stay.

“We’re young. No excuses. We came out a little, I guess, tight. I didn’t think we were in the locker room but we obviously were and we just didn’t get things going like we like to,” Rangeley coach Heidi Deery said.

Rangeley started to pick up its defensive intensity and Morin led a 10-2 Laker run during the second and third quarters. She went outside to send the margin into double digits with a 3-pointer late in the third.

“She just sees the floor really well,” Deery said. “When she’s moving without the ball, she is dangerous. She takes up a lot of space and understands the game. She really is coachable. When she knows what we’re trying to do, she can steady the ship when we might have younger players out there that might be a little unsure.”

Foul trouble for senior guard Linda Riley (four points, three steals) hampered the Tigers. She went to the bench with her fourth foul shortly before Morin’s 3-pointer, returned to start the fourth quarter and drew her fifth personal to foul out with 5:19 remaining. The Lakers immediately went on a 7-0 lead to pull away.

“We had trouble with foul shots and foul trouble,” Forest Hills coach Jill Demanski said. “Even with Linda in foul trouble in the first half, we did well. If we had hit some free throws, that score would have been a lot different.”

Forest Hills shot 2-for-17 from the free throw line, including 0-for-10 in the fourth quarter when Rangeley pulled away.

Sydney Royce added 10 points and six rebounds and Amelia McMillian chipped in with nine points for the Lakers.

“Jackman’s a good team and it was a great opportunity to get my young kids on this floor and in this environment, so I’m thankful for that and obviously the win,” Deery said.

Randy Whitehouse — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @RAWmaterial33

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