Saturday March 03, 2012 | 03:55 PM

Presque Isle had its doubters going into Friday night's Class B girls' state championship game against Lake Region. The Wildcats, they said, hadn't faced any competition.

Their closest game in the regular season was decided by 18 points and they routinely won by 30. They were pushed by Nokomis in the Eastern Maine final, but won by 12.

So when Presque Isle held on to beat the Lakers 49-47 at the Bangor Auditorium, the Wildcats felt they answered their critics. In a frenzied fourth quarter that saw eight lead changes and one tie, Presque Isle made the plays down the stretch to win the school's fourth title.

“A lot of people said we couldn't handle a close game,'' said senior Kayla Richards, who was vital in the final six minutes with her scoring and defense. “But we did our best and I think we did pretty well handling it.''

Presque Isle Coach Jeff Hudson added, “I knew we had guts. Everybody questioned (us) because we hadn't been in close games. But we were ready. We play tough competition all year. We have a lot of heart.''

LAKE REGION borrowed a tactic used by baseball and softball teams to get ready for the season. During Christmas break, the Lakers went to Fort Myers, Fla., for an invitational tournament. The Lakers won their first game against host Cypress Lakes, then lost by five to Orlando University (one of the biggest high schools in the state) and by 19 to Lincoln Park.

Coach Paul True said those games prepared his girls for everything that was to come.

“Oh my gosh, it made a huge difference,'' he said. “The speed of play was nothing like we see here. The excitement and the energy carried over to our practice sessions.
“We saw Division I players. It took us to a whole new level.''

Playing that style allowed the Lakers to be ready for the full-court pressure of teams like Leavitt and Presque Isle.
 

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VarsityMaine The Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram put a priority on high school sports coverage, and this blog is a place for all our reporters to put news and notes from around the state.

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Tom Chard is a Portland native who has covered high school sports and golf for the Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram for 38 years. A three-sport athlete at Deering High, Tom's chief athletic pursuit is chasing the little white ball. He played in his 20th Maine Amateur Golf Championship in July.



Glenn Jordan came to Maine in 1994 to cover the nascent Portland Sea Dogs. After eight baseball seasons and three children – the last two within 18 minutes of each other – he became a part-time writer. Among the sports he covers are now are tennis, skiing, swimming and running. He has a degree in philosophy from Dartmouth, a decent forehand and a penchant for checkers.


Mike Lowe is a Massachusetts native who feels he's lived long enough in Maine (since 1982) to have roots here. He graduated from Boston University and has worked in New Hampshire and Maine, covering everything from the Little League World Series to the Olympics. When he has free time – Ha! – he likes to read, collect comic books and watch the grass grow from his hammock.

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