PORTLAND — Cheverus senior Brooke Flaherty admitted having a bit of doubt. When Sanford guard Taylor Littlefield banked in a 3-pointer with just over 30 seconds remaining and Sanford then stole the ensuing inbounds pass, Flaherty had a brief flashback to three years of disappointing quarterfinal exits at the Portland Expo.

“That was not ideal. That was frustrating for us,” Flaherty said. “We just really had to fight back, and every second counted in that game.”

Flaherty quickly responded, tying up Sanford’s inbounds pass, and Cheverus survived a low-scoring Western Class A quarterfinal, winning 31-26 to advance to the semifinals for the first time.

“The play of the game for us was (by) Brooke,” Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley said. “She had the ball knocked out of her hands, but boy, she didn’t hang her head. She showed leadership and tied up (Sanford center Heather) LeBlanc and that was pretty much the play of the game.”

Third-seeded Cheverus (17-2) will face No. 2 Deering at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Cumberland County Civic Center.

No. 6 Sanford (13-7) had good scoring opportunities throughout but shot 10 for 44. Cheverus contained guard Samantha Adams, the Spartans’ top 3-point shooter. Adams had two points.

Morgan Fogg led Sanford with eight points. Heather LeBlanc finished with five.

Cheverus also struggled from the floor, making 10 of 40 shots as Sanford held outside shooter Victoria Nappi scoreless (Nappi had 18 in the Stags’ 57-47 regular-season win) and limited Flaherty to five points, just one after the opening minutes.

“We were anticipating Flaherty or Nappi really going off and we seemed to contain them,” Sanford Coach Kristy Parent said. “For us to hold that team to that score says a lot about us.”

With offense at a premium, three 3-pointers by Cheverus loomed large.

Mikayla Mayberry drained one from the top of the key just seconds left before halftime for a 14-11 lead. Then Georgia Ford (game-high nine points) made a pair early in the third to stretch the lead to 20-12.

“I came out for the halftime shootaround and missed every single shot,” Ford said. “(Teammate) Casey Honan came up to me and said you just have to stay positive and believe you’re going to make every single shot.”

Cheverus maintained a three-possession lead until the final minute.

“We have had disappointment here and the seniors, the six of us, we realized we didn’t want this to be our last game. And we didn’t want to lose here, especially,” Flaherty said.

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

scraig@mainetoday.com

Twitter: SteveCCraig