Saturday, March 8, 2014
By Steve Craig email@example.com
McAuley High’s top-ranked girls’ basketball team stresses team basketball.
Olivia Smith of McAuley drives against Portland’s Brianna Holdren during their Western Class A girls’ basketball semifinal Friday night at the Cumberland County Civic Center. Smith scored 15 points to help McAuley advanced to the regional final with a 70-38 victory.
John Ewing/Staff Photographer
By the end of the Lions’ 70-38 victory Friday against No. 4 Portland in a Western Class A semifinal, even the deep reserves were showing they can play at a high level.
Senior starters Allie Clement (16 points), Olivia Smith (15 points) and Jaclyn Welch (9) and juniors Olivia Dalphonse and Victoria Lux (9 points) salted away the win with a 20-0 first-half run. By the fourth quarter they were on the bench, looking forward to Saturday’s regional final, when seldom-used Amanda Spink and Lauren Coulombe drained consecutive 3-pointers.
“We have a lot of players contributing,” Clement said. “The last quarter of the game, our bench was literally lighting it up out there. It was so awesome to see that. They’ve worked so hard in practice. They deserved every second of that.”
McAuley (19-1) has won the past three Class A state championships. The Lions will play for another regional title at 7 p.m. Saturday against No. 7 Windham (14-7), a team it beat 74-29 during the regular season.
“It was very exciting for us to be back at the Civic Center, the new gym,” Clement said. “We’ve wanted to come here the whole year. Our goal is the state championship. We don’t talk about it a lot all the time, (but) everyone knows. We really just want to get to that last game and pull out a win.”
The Lions’ big run put them ahead 23-2. Smith, a silky smooth 6-foot-3 center headed to Dartmouth, capped it with a turnaround baseline jumper.
Portland (14-6) was trailing 31-12 and McAuley was liberally using its bench when Portland junior Elizabeth Donato was injured in a collision with McAuley’s Ayla Tartre while going for a loose ball with 3.3 seconds left in the first half. Donato was transported by ambulance to Maine Medical Center and was undergoing tests.
“I wanted to do my best I could for Elizabeth,” Portland senior Brianna Holdren said. “When I got out of the locker room (after the game) and they said she was responding, that was a grateful moment.”
Holdren scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half.
Portland was making its first playoff appearance at the Civic Center in 10 seasons. A year ago, the Bulldogs were 8-10 and did not make the tournament.
“I’m really proud of them,” Portland Coach Jan Veinot said. “Portland High School has a program. It’s really back. That’s what I’ve been working for, and it’s a public school and it’s back.”
McAuley’s ability to share the basketball, run in transition and defend (it caused 16 first-half turnovers) and its experienced, top-end talent is currently the gold standard in Maine.
“We really try to stress team basketball, and I thought we were doing that,” McAuley Coach Bill Goodman said. “Just moving the ball around. I’m very happy.”
The contributions from the Lions’ reserves, who accounted for 16 points, also helps with the 24-hour turnaround for the regional final.
“We got a good lead and I subbed because we do have a game tomorrow night,” Goodman said. “I also subbed because every girl coming off the bench has worked extremely hard and I know they play defense. When I put them in, I trust them to get the job done.”
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