KENTS HILL — The Kents Hill girls basketball team made it a goal to reach the Augusta Civic Center for the Western C tournament.
“It’s what we wanted so bad,” said senior guard Sara Grenier. “We worked hard all year for this.”
Thanks to standout performances from Grenier and Emma Curnin — as well as a game-changing 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter — the Huskies pushed their season to the big stage.
Grenier scored a game-high 24 points and Curnin added 12 to lead No. 7 Kents Hill to a 47-38 victory over No. 11 Hall-Dale in a Western C prelim game Tuesday night.
The Huskies (12-4) will play No. 2 Maranacook (13-5) in a regional quarterfinal game at 4 p.m. on Tuesday.
Allison Crockett scored 17 points to lead the Bulldogs, who finished 11-8.
“I’m just speechless,” said Grenier, an Oakland native who transferred from Messalonskee after her sophomore year. “It’s so amazing. This is what we wanted. This means so much to us and our school. We did it.”
The Huskies did, but it wasn’t easy.
The teams stayed within six points of each other throughout the first three quarters, but Kents Hill put the game away with a pivotal 10-0 run early in the fourth quarter.
Curnin started the spurt with two inside baskets after the Huskies worked the ball around the perimeter.
Grenier then came up with a steal and a layup to give Kents Hill a 32-26 lead with 6 minutes, 11 seconds left in the game.
“It was huge,” Kents Hill coach Luke Wamboldt said. “We needed that.”
Hall-Dale called timeout but Kents Hill continued its run with baskets from Curnin and Grenier, the latter coming on another steal and layup.
“That was the turning point in the game,” said Curnin, a 6-foot-2 Topsham native. “That was the difference.”
Hall-Dale pulled within 40-35 with a little under two minutes remaining on a Thea Sweet basket, but Nicole Pelletier fouled out moments later.
Grenier made five of six free throw attempts in the final minute to seal the victory.
“They out-played us, out-coached us, out-worked us and out-hustled us,” Hall-Dale coach Brandon Terrill said. “The bottom line is that we just got out-played.”
Kents Hill played the second half without starting guard/forward Karrisha Gillespie, who exited with a shoulder injury.
Liz Torres turned in a strong performance, particularly at the defensive end of the floor, to help compensate for the loss. Torres finished with four points but grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds.
“She played the game of her life,” Wamboldt said. “She hasn’t played a lot this season but she really stepped up.”
Wamboldt promised a large and energetic student turnout, and he was right.
More than 150 Kents Hill students turned out. They filled up a bleacher section and a standing room area above the court. They were loud, and Terrill said they played a factor in the game.
“The atmosphere was loud,” he said, “and I think that rattled us in the beginning. We struggled to settle in.”
Hall-Dale led 9-7 after the first quarter but Kents Hill pulled even when Grenier converted a fastbreak layup.
Allison Crockett, who battled Curnin inside all game, struggled to get into rhythm, but she hit an inside basket midway through the second quarter to give the Bulldogs a 13-11 lead. Crockett finished with nine points.
The Bulldogs led 16-13 before Grenier buried a 3-pointer from the corner with under 10 seconds left in the quarter to tie the game at the half.
“It feels so incredible,” Grenier said. “We worked so hard to reach our goal.”
Bill Stewart — 621-5640 firstname.lastname@example.org