OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The Waynflete girls turned in a heart-stopper Thursday night to keep their unbeaten start to the season alive.
Leigh Fernandez hit the first of two free throws with 15.1 seconds left, Helen Gray-Bauer grabbed the rebound of the second shot, and the Flyers held off Old Orchard Beach 46-44 in a Western Maine Conference girls’ basketball game.
Julianna Harwood added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Waynflete (4-0).
Lauralee Small and Abby Dubois each scored 10 points to lead the Seagulls (4-1). Dubois also had 10 rebounds and three steals.
This one packed a lot of drama into the final minutes, as the Seagulls scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to take a 44-43 lead on Mackenzie Rague’s jump shot with 1:10 to go.
Fernandez (22 points) hit two free throws to regain the lead for Waynflete with 1:03 left. The Flyers got the ball back, and Fernandez tried to drive through Old Orchard’s defense but was called for a charge in front of the Flyers’ bench with 28.3 seconds remaining.
The Seagulls then put the ball in play, but Gray-Bauer (six points, 12 rebounds, two steals) leaped high to slap at the ball, as she had several times earlier. This time she came down with it for a steal. Fernandez was fouled away from the ball.
“My heart stopped,” Gray-Bauer said. “I was playing with four fouls for a quarter in a half. I heard the whistle. I was like, are they calling that a foul? Then I was so relieved.”
That’s because she saw Fernandez head to the line, where she hit one free throw for a 46-44 lead. Gray-Bauer got the rebound after Fernandez missed the second shot.
“That’s been a theme for us this year, that everyone contributes,” Fernandez said. “That was a great steal. A game-changer.”
Waynflete, which averaged 30-point victories in its opening three games, stretched a two-point lead after one quarter to seven at halftime, 21-14. The Seagulls, who had a rough night getting shots to fall, started to show signs of life in the third quarter as the teams played evenly, with Waynflete outscoring Old Orchard 13-11.
The Seagulls were soaring at the start of the fourth quarter, hitting three straight 3-pointers – the final two by Haley Plante, the coach’s daughter, to trim the Flyers’ lead to 41-34. Old Orchard Beach then went on a 10-2 run to grab the lead and set up the tense final minute of the game.
“This is a really good step for a team that hasn’t really been in a battle yet, or played a game for a week,” Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said. To come here and beat what I think is the best (Class C) team in the conference is a huge win for us.
“I’m proud of the girls for finding a way to pull it out, even though it wasn’t a masterpiece. We’ll take it.”
Like Waynflete, the Seagulls hadn’t been seriously tested until this matchup.
“That’s what you want early in the season, a good barometer,” Old Orchard Coach Dean Plante said. “We had some great looks that didn’t fall, and when it comes down it, one possession wins.
“It’s a good learning experience if nothing else.”