Katie McCrum has seen the Thornton Academy girls’ basketball team grow in her four years there, from a team that hoped to make the playoffs to one that hoped to contend for a championship.

So it was fitting that the outcome of the Western Class A semifinal Wednesday night at the Cross Insurance Arena would be in her hands.

McCrum, a senior guard, hit five foul shots in the final 32 seconds to enable second-ranked Thornton Academy to pull away from third-seeded Gorham, 42-32. She also had a defensive rebound and blocked a shot in that stretch.

“Not only do we want her to have the ball but she wants the ball in those situations,” said Coach Eric Marston. “So we knew we could count on her to ice the game for us.”

The Trojans (18-2) will play top-ranked McAuley in the regional final at 7 p.m. Saturday at CIA. It will be Thornton’s first appearance in a championship game in 30 years. The Trojans lost to Portland 64-60 in the 1985 Western Class A final.

“This team just plays for each other; it’s a really strong bonded team,” said Marston. “We’ve had some really adverse situations and they’ve only made us stronger.

“We’re certainly ecstatic we made it to the Western Maine final but at the same time we’re not remotely satisfied.”

Victoria Lux, the senior center who transferred to Thornton this year after winning three Class A state championships with McAuley, led the Trojans with 17 points and 13 rebounds – while adding one very big assist. McCrum had 11 points, seven in the final quarter.

The Trojans opened a 9-0 lead in the first four minutes but Gorham, behind Emily Esposito (14 points) and Kristen Curley (nine points on three 3-pointers) kept pushing back. The Rams (17-3) got within 20-19 on an Esposito basket with 4:12 left in the third period.

Lux responded with an offensive rebound basket. Two Gorham turnovers on the fast break led to another Lux offensive rebound basket and a foul-line jumper by Hayden Campbell, and the Trojans were back in control, 26-19.

“There were some nerves,” said Lux, “but I knew we were going to pull through.”

Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume said those missed opportunities were critical.

“I didn’t think we played badly,” he said. “I thought we defended well. We got out in transition and had numbers a good amount. We just didn’t finish. I was pleased with how we played. It’s unfortunate we didn’t shoot the ball well.”

Even then, Gorham pulled within four points when Esposito and Ashley Woodbury scored to make it 32-28 with 3:27 remaining. Lux was fouled with 1:12 left and hit the first of two foul shots. Her miss was rebounded by Campbell, leading to another 1-and-1 opportunity for Ashley Howe.

She missed, but Lux got the rebound and scored and it was 35-28. Esposito scored but with Gorham pressing, Lux threw a football pass to Alex Hart for a layup and it was 37-30. McCrum then hit 5 of 6 foul shots in the final 32 seconds to seal it.

“I just thought this was our time to break away,” said McCrum. “These foul shots at the end could seal the deal.”