December 19, 2013

Girls’ basketball: Waynflete turns back Old Orchard Beach

The reigning Class C state champions survive a clash of unbeaten WMC teams, earning a 46-44 win.

By Greg Reid
Special to the Press Herald

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The Waynflete girls turned in a heart-stopper Thursday night to keep their unbeaten start to the season alive.

click image to enlarge

Juliana Harwood, left, of Waynflete and Lauralee Small of Old Orchard Beach battle for the ball during Waynflete’s 46-44 win Thursday night.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Leigh Fernandez hit the first of two free throws with 15.1 seconds left, Helen Gray-Bauer grabbed the rebound of the second shot, and the Flyers held off Old Orchard Beach 46-44 in a Western Maine Conference girls’ basketball game.

Julianna Harwood added 10 points and 10 rebounds for Waynflete (4-0).

Lauralee Small and Abby Dubois each scored 10 points to lead the Seagulls (4-1). Dubois also had 10 rebounds and three steals.

This one packed a lot of drama into the final minutes, as the Seagulls scored 19 points in the fourth quarter to take a 44-43 lead on Mackenzie Rague’s jump shot with 1:10 to go.

Fernandez (22 points) hit two free throws to regain the lead for Waynflete with 1:03 left. The Flyers got the ball back, and Fernandez tried to drive through Old Orchard’s defense but was called for a charge in front of the Flyers’ bench with 28.3 seconds remaining.

The Seagulls then put the ball in play, but Gray-Bauer (six points, 12 rebounds, two steals) leaped high to slap at the ball, as she had several times earlier. This time she came down with it for a steal. Fernandez was fouled away from the ball.

“My heart stopped,” Gray-Bauer said. “I was playing with four fouls for a quarter in a half. I heard the whistle. I was like, are they calling that a foul? Then I was so relieved.”

That’s because she saw Fernandez head to the line, where she hit one free throw for a 46-44 lead. Gray-Bauer got the rebound after Fernandez missed the second shot.

“That’s been a theme for us this year, that everyone contributes,” Fernandez said. “That was a great steal. A game-changer.”

Waynflete, which averaged 30-point victories in its opening three games, stretched a two-point lead after one quarter to seven at halftime, 21-14. The Seagulls, who had a rough night getting shots to fall, started to show signs of life in the third quarter as the teams played evenly, with Waynflete outscoring Old Orchard 13-11.

The Seagulls were soaring at the start of the fourth quarter, hitting three straight 3-pointers – the final two by Haley Plante, the coach’s daughter, to trim the Flyers’ lead to 41-34. Old Orchard Beach then went on a 10-2 run to grab the lead and set up the tense final minute of the game.

“This is a really good step for a team that hasn’t really been in a battle yet, or played a game for a week,” Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said. To come here and beat what I think is the best (Class C) team in the conference is a huge win for us.

“I’m proud of the girls for finding a way to pull it out, even though it wasn’t a masterpiece. We’ll take it.”

Like Waynflete, the Seagulls hadn’t been seriously tested until this matchup.

“That’s what you want early in the season, a good barometer,” Old Orchard Coach Dean Plante said. “We had some great looks that didn’t fall, and when it comes down it, one possession wins.

“It’s a good learning experience if nothing else.”

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