WHO: Brunswick (18-3) vs. Messalonskee (21-0)
WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday
WHERE: Augusta Civic Center
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Brunswick – seeded second in South – defeated Kennebunk (57-42), York (43-35), Greely (54-51) in playoffs; Messalonskee – seeded first in North – defeated Gardiner (67-56), Hampden Academy (70-31), Nokomis (55-39) in playoffs.
KEY PLAYERS: Brunswick – Madeline Suhr, sr. F (14.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.2 blocks, 3.8 steals), Sabrina Armstrong, jr. G (11.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.4 steals), Charlotte MacMillan (7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.5 steals), Brooke Barter, sr. F (6.1 points, 5.2 rebounds), Aidan Sachs, sr. F (5.5 points, 4.9 rebounds); Messalonskee – Sophie Holmes, sr. G (21.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2.3 assists), Ally Turner, jr. G (9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.5 steals), McKenna Brodeur, sr. C (9.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals), Gabrielle Wener, fr. G (8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds), Makayla Wilson, jr. G (4.6 points, 3.1 rebounds).
WHAT BRUNSWICK MUST DO TO WIN: It all comes down to defense for the Dragons, who give up just 37.4 points per game. They can’t let the Eagles get running and they cannot let the Eagles get open looks from the outside. The Eagles are too good offensively to let them run what they want. Look for MacMillan to take on Holmes in Brunswick’s man-to-man alignment. Offensively Brunswick will take what the Eagles give them. The Dragons have shown the ability to play inside-out and that won’t change. They’ll drive to the basket when you give it to them or push it back out for an open 3-pointer. And they’re not afraid to put up a shot from anywhere. Brunswick has to be able to hold its own on offensive rebounding. If the Dragons get second shots, they’ll be tough to beat.
WHAT MESSALONSKEE MUST DO TO WIN: The Eagles like to get out fast. They’ve opened big early leads in all their playoff wins. Much of their offense is fueled by a harassing defense that contests shots and forces turnovers. And if the Eagles can rattle the Dragons, they will force turnovers. Brunswick had 27 in the Class A South title game. Holmes can break down a defense by herself – a great offensive threat – but she has plenty of help. Turner is a 5-11 point guard who knows when to push the ball and when to pull it out. Messalonskee doesn’t force much offensively, seeming always to find the open player. If the Eagles can maintain possession and force the Dragons into foul trouble, they will have a big advantage.