OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The plan was simple for Old Orchard Beach High’s girls’ basketball team Tuesday night in its Class C South preliminary round tournament game against North Yarmouth Academy: start fast.
“Even though we’re still a young team, we do have some kids with tournament experience,” said Seagulls Coach Dean Plante. “And they hadn’t been here in a while. So we wanted to start fast, get them on their heels and get them rattled. It was good to see us respond.”
Fourth-ranked Old Orchard Beach came out running and gunning and never slowed down, roaring to a 59-21 victory over NYA, making its first tournament appearance in five years. The Seagulls scored 19 points in the first quarter, and for the game hit eight 3-pointers and forced 30 turnovers.
“They’re in the tournament year-in, year-out,” said NYA Coach Seth Farrington. “And we looked shell shocked a little bit there at the beginning, they went on a big run.”
OOB (11-8) will play fifth-seeded Madison in the Class C South quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. The Panthers finished 7-12, with three of the losses coming to the Seagulls.
“We had to make sure that we didn’t go into the game thinking we were going to win, we had to come in ready,” said sophomore forward Emily Greenlee, who led OOB with 13 points. “Anyone can have a good night and go off so we had to make sure we covered the shooters and work hard on defense. And that’s definitely how we won this game.”
Brianna Plante, who missed the Seagulls’ last two games of the season (both losses) while recovering from an ankle injury, started things with a 3-pointer on a nice kick-out pass from 6-foot-2 freshman center Maggie Strohm. NYA tied it with a 3-pointer by Maggie Larson, who had a team-high eight points, but then the Seagulls went on a 9-0 run.
Tiffany Leclair began it with a back-door layup, then OOB forced two consecutive turnovers with its full-court press. Each one led to a layup by Greenlee, who capped the run with a 3-pointer from the left of the key.
“We’re a volume-shooting 3-point team, there’s no doubt” said Dean Plante. “When we’re full strength, we can put three, four kids on the court and stretch you sideline-to-sideline.”
“That’s our strength,” said Brianna Plante. “We rely on our outside game.”
NYA trailed 19-8 after one quarter, making a dozen turnovers, then 31-13 at the half. OOB clamped down even more in the third quarter, holding the Panthers to two points in expanding the lead to 44-15.
Sophomore guard Maya Hebert added 11 points for OOB, hitting two 3-pointers. Megan LaPlante scored eight and Strohm scored seven points.
While disappointed with the outcome, Farrington said the Panthers are heading in the right direction. Five of their top seven players are either sophomores or freshmen.
“We’re building in the right way,” he said. “Now we’ve got to take the next step and not be content with just getting to the prelim game.”