Martha Veroneau is not playing for Waynflete this year, but there’s still plenty of life in the girls’ basketball lineup.
The sixth-seeded Flyers turned back a challenge from 13th-seeded Sacopee Valley to pull away for a 50-38 win in a Western Class C prelim Tuesday night.
Next Tuesday night, Waynflete will play Carrabec in a regional quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.
Veroneau, who graduated last June, received the state’s Miss Basketball award after leading the Flyers to their first Class C state championship last winter.
“A lot more people have definitely stepped up this year,” said Julianna Howard, a senior forward who scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds to help the Flyers beat the Hawks for the third time this season. “A lot of people are playing different roles, whether it’s scoring more or getting more minutes.
“All of the freshmen have stepped up and have gotten so much better. Our goal in the beginning (of the season) was to improve every single day, and we’ve done that.”
Waynflete (13-6) still had trouble getting past Sacopee Valley (9-10) after beating it twice during the regular season by an average of 19 points.
“They just came out really hard,” Howard said. “Credit to them, they played tough the entire four quarters. They really (started) with more energy than what we had and they really wanted it, and that showed the entire game. We really had to step it up.”
Emma Glazer, who led the Hawks with 15 points, scored twice during a 35-second span to pull them to within four points, but the Flyers closed out the game with a 9-3 run over the final 3:36.
“I want my kids to know I’m really proud of them,” Sacopee Valley Coach Chris Hughes said.
“My kids battled and worked hard, and I’m proud of the way they came together and gave Waynflete quite a game.”
Sacopee Valley led by as many seven points during the first half when point guard Helen Gray-Bauer got into foul trouble and spent more than seven minutes on the bench.
“I had to roll the dice a little bit to put her back in there in the first half, and she came in and gave us some life,” Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said.
Gray-Bauer scored 14 points and, more importantly, was a stabilizing influence on offense and defense.
The Flyers pulled into a 23-21 lead at the end of the first half after Leigh Fernandez, who had 12 points, banked in a 3-pointer from the right side and Howard made a free throw in the closing moments of the second quarter.
Howard, who scored 11 points during the second half, ignited an 8-2 run with back-to-back hoops at the start of the third quarter to propel Waynflete into a 31-21 lead.
The Flyers carried a 33-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We’re back to Augusta, which was a goal,” Salway said.
“There’s a lot of good teams in C this year, and the tournament’s wide open. Now we’ve got a week to prepare, so hopefully mentally this game was a little bit of a wake-up call.”