BIDDEFORD – McAuley High girls’ basketball coach Bill Goodman wanted his team to focus on defense Friday.

The message was heard and Biddeford suffered the consequences.

McAuley came within 14 seconds of pitching a first-half shutout, scoring the first 37 points of the Western Class A matinee en route to a 60-19 victory.

“The last couple of games our defense had been lacking. We just haven’t been playing as well,” said Allie Clement, who led the Lions with 14 points. “Defense is kind of what we’ve been known for, kind of our rock that we can always go to.”

The victory emphasized the distance between McAuley (6-0), the two-time defending Class A champ, and the lower tier of Western A. McAuley has yet to win by fewer than 30 points and three victories have been by more than 50.

McAuley led 20-0 after a quarter and 37-2 at the half while shooting below 50 percent (15 of 35). Misses more often than not resulted in offensive rebounds for 6-foot-2 Olivia Smith (7 points) or 6-foot Victoria Lux (8 points).

Biddeford didn’t score until Erica Letellier banked in a shot from the right elbow with 14 seconds remaining in the half.

“It’s their size matched with their athleticism,” Biddeford Coach Brian Heal said. “There were certain points there, especially in the second half, where we had seemingly open jump shots from the elbow, and Smith comes in from nowhere and gets a hand on it.

“They really played well defensively. We struggled to even get a good look in the first half and we ran just about every set we have.”

Biddeford attempted only 11 shots in the first half.

“I thought the girls executed really well,” Goodman said. “We’ve struggled a little on defense. We asked them to do stuff and they did it.”

On the flip side, McAuley was able to quickly move the ball on offense. If it went in to Lux at the high post, she showed the ability and vision to quickly dish to all four corners.

Clement and her freshman sister, Sarah, traded skip passes on consecutive possessions to set each other up for 3-pointers, with Sarah hitting from the deep right wing for a 26-0 lead and then Allie knocking one down from the left wing for a 29-0 margin.

Jackie Welch was also spot-on with her shooting early en route to 12 points.

In the second half, Biddeford cut down on turnovers and also got some spark from an early Charlotte White 3-pointer.

Laci Gilblair worked inside for a team-high six points and Jillian Sheltra added five.

Biddeford’s improved play and Goodman’s liberal use of his 14-player roster — Lux was the only starter to score in the fourth quarter — kept the second half reasonably competitive.

“We’ve got a really young group,” Heal said.

“For a lot of them this was their first time seeing a team that good.”

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be contacted at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com