OLD ORCHARD BEACH — Kennadi Grover hit her first shot and knew it would be a good night. Old Orchard Beach High missed its first, second and third shots and, well, you knew it wasn’t going to be a good night.

Grover, a sophomore forward for Georges Valley in Thomaston, finished with 25 points as the Buccaneers won 43-31 in a Western Class C girls’ preliminary-round game Tuesday night.

Ninth-ranked Georges Valley, which will merge with Rockland next fall and play in Class B as Oceanside, will next play top-ranked Hall-Dale in the quarterfinals at the Augusta Civic Center at 8:30 p.m. next Tuesday.

“This means a lot to us,” said Grover, who also had 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. “This is our last year. That’s why I play my heart out every game, to go up there.”

The Buccaneers (11-8) lost twice in the regular season to Hall-Dale, by 15 and 13 points.

Eighth-ranked Old Orchard Beach (9-10) was unable to overcome its primary weakness: foul shooting. The Seagulls, who hit only about 30 percent of their free throws in the regular season, missed 19 against Georges Valley, hitting only four.

They were 0 of 12 in the first half as the Buccaneers took a 23-10 lead. The Gulls also committed 32 turnovers – 23 in the first half.

“It’s not the time to do that at tournament time,” said Coach Dean Plante. “The first half we really struggled to put the ball in the hoop.”

Plante knew his team was in trouble when it missed five layups in the first quarter, several uncontested.

“The effort was there, the effort is always there,” he said. “We just didn’t finish.”

And Grover did.

Operating from the foul line in, she scored 11 points in the second quarter, often using the backboard to bank in mid-range shots from the wings.

“That’s old school,” said Plante.

Actually, said Grover, it’s practice. “Coach has us work at that. He calls it fundamentals.”

Dwight Henry, in his second stint as coach of the Buccaneers, called it “one of Kennadi’s better games. She stepped up and did a good job. And she had a blister on her foot to boot.”

“She was on,” said Old Orchard Beach’s Plante. “I was watching my girls bang her around but she was getting second-chance baskets, offensive rebounds she was strong.”

True to form, Old Orchard made a run in the second half. Pressure defense forced 34 turnovers of its own, allowing the Seagulls to hang around. They pulled within 10 after three quarters, as Katie Hatch scored six of her 12 points, and got within nine twice in the fourth.

The first time came on a Christina Coleman 3-pointer from the left corner with 5:34 left, the second on an offensive rebound by Gillian Foss that made it 39-30.

But each time the Buccaneers responded, led by the heady play of guard Jill Bradbury.

“I was getting a little nervous at the end,” said Bradbury, who had eight points.

“We were rushing our offense but we settled down. We just really wanted to get to Augusta.”

Henry simply told his players to slow down.

“I wanted them to keep within themselves and try not to panic,” he said. “I called timeouts and that stuff. I’ve been down this road before and know it can slip away in a heartbeat.

“I told them to keep it in perspective.”

And now they’re moving on.

“Some of these girls don’t play soccer and don’t play softball and (those teams) have been there, they’ve been to the tournament,” said Henry. “This is big for them, the kids who haven’t been there. This is a good way to finish, to go to Augusta.”

 

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: [email protected]