AUGUSTA — It’s been 17 years since the Carrabec girls’ basketball team last played for a Western Class C championship.
Thanks to a strong fourth-quarter performance against Maranacook and a sharp reversal of its 3-point shooting woes, the Cobras snapped that skid Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center.
Hannah Atwood scored 17 points and Macy Welch added 12 to lead No. 3 Carrabec past No. 2 Maranacook 58-52 in a regional semifinal before a vocal and energized crowd.
Atwood also had 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals.
“We have one banner in the gym,” Carrabec Coach George Rugh said, “and that’s runner-up in Western Maine in 1997. We matched that, but we want to go forward. Absolutely, we want to be playing next Saturday (in the state final).”
Carrabec (17-4) will play rival and fifth-seeded Madison (15-6) at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Maranacook finished 14-6.
“It’s tough,” Maranacook Coach Jeannine Paradis said. “The emotions are … we are thrilled to be here. We want to work hard. We wanted more. We’re coming back.”
Jessica Vaillancourt scored eight points, and Emma Pluntke finished with six points and seven rebounds for the Cobras, who made seven 3-pointers after shooting 0 for 8 from long range in a quarterfinal win over Waynflete.
Maranacook senior forward Christine Miller scored 18 points but fouled out with 3:47 remaining, with Carrabec trying to protect a 56-50 lead.
Catherine Sanborn had 16 points and Sarah Clough added 12 for the Black Bears.
“We did all we could,” Miller said. “We gave it everything we had.”
The game was a see-saw affair throughout. There were seven lead changes, and neither team led by more than eight.
Carrabec held a 46-45 lead going into the fourth quarter and then took control with a 10-3 run highlighted by a pair of putbacks from Welch.
“Those baskets, I don’t even know,” Welch said. “They were awesome. I’m glad I got them. We needed them to win the game.”
The run gave the Cobras a 56-48 lead, but the Black Bears answered with baskets from Sara Beckwith and Sanborn to make it 56-52 with a little more than a minute to go.
However, Welch grabbed another offensive rebound and banked home a layup with 1:18 left.
“We just kept shooting and we were making our shots,” Rugh said. “It was a beautiful thing. It was probably one of the best shooting games we’ve had all year.”
Maranacook got off to a quick start thanks to the play of Miller, who also had eight rebounds. She scored 11 points in the first quarter, prompting Rugh to switch defenses.
“We tried to play her (man-to-man) but it wasn’t working,” he said. “At the end of second, we switched to a 1-2-2 (zone). We really had everybody communicating about where she was.”
Atwood swished a 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer to pull the teams even at 16. She then buried another shot from behind the arc just a minute into the second quarter to give Carrabec a 19-16 lead.
The teams traded baskets the rest of the quarter before Bailey Atwood banked in a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left. The shot from the wing gave Carrabec a 33-30 lead at the half.
“We knew it was going to be a running game,” Paradis said. “Both teams like to run and get opportunities in transition.”
Clough and Miller helped Maranacook grab a 43-39 lead midway through the third quarter, but Carrabec answered with a 7-2 run.
“We just stepped it up,” Welch said. “We realized we had to if we wanted to win, and we did.”
Bill Stewart can be contacted at 621-5640 or at: