February 24, 2013

Western Class C girls' basketball: Defense the difference as Waynflete goes on

The Flyers reach a state final for the first time since 2003 by stifling Madison, 63-41.

By Steve Craig scraig@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA - For those who claim that defense wins championships, the high-scoring Waynflete girls' basketball team has a message: It has that covered, too.

click image to enlarge

Rhiannan Jackson, center, hugs Martha Veroneau after Waynflete captured the Western Class C title by defeating Madison 63-41 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Joel Page/Special to the Telegram

click image to enlarge

Martha Veroneau won the Western Class C top player/sportswoman award for the second straight year, leading Waynflete to the title.

Joel Page/Special to the Telegram

GIRLS' CLASS C FINAL

WHO: Waynflete (19-3) vs. Calais (21-0)

WHEN: 2 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Bangor Auditorium

More tournament coverage:

The Flyers put together great offense and defense in the Western Class C final Saturday against Madison, rolling off 13 straight points in less than 90 seconds in the second quarter on the way to a 63-41 win at the Augusta Civic Center.

Waynflete (19-3), the No. 4 seed, will meet undefeated Calais (21-0) in the state championship game at the Bangor Auditorium. It's Waynflete's first trip to a state final since 2003, when it was a Class D school.

Martha Veroneau scored 26 points and won the Robin Colcord Award as the tourney's outstanding player for a second straight season. Last year, Veroneau's honor came after her team lost in the regional final for the second time in three seasons.

"It's great to get these individual accolades, but when the team succeeds as well it's really sweeter," Veroneau said. "That's why I play the game, why everyone plays the game, is for the success of the team. It's an incredible feeling to win it, with this team, especially.

Waynflete forced second-seeded Madison (17-4) into 41 turnovers, 25 in the first half.

"We had to (play defense)," Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway said. "We were a little frazzled early and our defense saved us. Our pressure allowed us to take a lot longer than we usually do to get going offensively."

Waynflete made just 3 of 17 shots in the first quarter and was leading 14-10 when sophomore forward Juliana Harwood hit the deck hard with 5:44 left in second quarter while chasing down Madison's 19th turnover. Veroneau immediately went to work with two athletic finishes in the paint. Then Leigh Fernandez drained two 3-pointers sandwiched around a trey from Veroneau, boosting the lead to 27-10.

Harwood tried to return in the second half but reinjured her right knee.

Cristie Vicneire scored 15 points for Madison and almost shot the Bulldogs back into the game. She scored six straight in the second quarter after Waynflete's run and sank two 3-pointers early in the third.

When Madison senior Samantha Bruce (nine points) converted a three-point play with four minutes left in the third, Waynflete's lead was down to 38-34.

Catherine Veroneau, Martha's twin sister, whom Salway said played her best game of the season -- "possibly her career considering the magnitude" -- answered with a putback, then Martha Veroneau scored in transition and followed with a 3-pointer from the baseline.

Helen Gray-Bauer (eight points) finished the spree with a basket to give Waynflete a 49-34 lead after three quarters.

Vicneire made one more 3-pointer to start the fourth before Waynflete put the game away with 14 straight points, including three strong moves to the basket by senior Rhiannon Jackson (11 points), a Gray-Bauer 3-pointer and Martha Veroneau simply running past five Bulldogs for an end-to-end layup.

Staff Writer Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or at:

scraig@mainetoday.com

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