CUMBERLAND — Alison Furness said she’s been feeling sick for three days.
But she looked fine Tuesday night as she hit her first four shots to get the Wells girls’ basketball team flowing early, then the Warriors’ defense controlled the Rangers in a 43-40 victory.
“That was really helpful. The team was like, ‘if she’s sick and she’s going to be off, then we should probably all kick into gear,’ and I think it just helped our team really get going,” Furness said.
The game pitted two of the Western Maine Conference’s top teams, top defenses and top players.
Furness, a senior forward, finished with 20 points as Wells (15-2) solidified its hold on third place in the tightly packed Western Class B standings.
Greely (13-4) was paced by its star, Ashley Storey, who scored 15 points, blocked four shots and scored twice in a 6-second span in the final 12 seconds of the fourth quarter to make it a one-possession game.
Wells was able to inbound the ball after Storey’s second basket and Nicole Moody, who had made 6 of 10 free throws in the final two minutes, dribbled up the sideline as time expired.
Greely senior Blaise Tardif contributed 13 points with three 3-pointers. She suffered a right ankle injury as the game ended. Greely Coach Joel Rogers said he expects Tardif to be ready when the regional tournament begins next week.
Both teams entered allowing fewer than 40 points a game, but with Furness and Stephanie Woods (7 points, all in the first quarter) shooting well for Wells and Storey and Blais (7 and 8 points in the quarter) knocking down shots at the other end, the first quarter was a shootout that ended with Wells ahead 18-17.
“My assistant said to me, ‘Listen, they’re not going to keep shooting like that and neither are we,’” Wells Coach Don Abbott said. “So we need to buckle down defensively.”
From that point the game became a defensive struggle, with Wells getting the edge by holding Greely to seven points combined in the second and third quarters to take a 34-24 lead.
The Warriors were particularly effective at double- and sometimes triple-teaming Storey in the post while still being able to pressure the ball on the perimeter.
“At the end of the day, they played better defense and they wanted it more,” Greely Coach Joel Rogers said.
Both coaches pointed to a hustle play made by Wells center Sophie Lamb. Greely appeared to have made a steal in its trapping zone while Wells was pulling the ball out, using its four experienced ball handlers – Furness, Moody, Woods and Jordan Agger as a high-post pivot. With the ball on the floor, Lamb rushed from the low post to wrest it away.
“It’s still a six-point game and Wells was on the floor and we weren’t,” Rogers said.
Wells led 24-19 at the half as Greely’s defense had also gotten stingy, allowing only six points in the second quarter.
Agger scored twice early in the third and then Furness finished in transition off a Woods steal to stretch the lead to 30-19.
Greely kept itself in the game with the 3-point shot, with Molly Chapin (twice), Tardif and Storey all connecting from behind the arc.
Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at firstname.lastname@example.org