February 18

Western Class C girls’ basketball: Defending champ Waynflete falls

The Flyers lose 49-37 to Carrabec in a regional quarterfinal.

By Mark Emmert memmert@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

AUGUSTA -- Kate Stevens had dreamed so long about playing at the Augusta Civic Center that when the time finally arrived, she was consumed by nerves.

click image to enlarge

Carrabec’s Bailey Atwood, left, and Helen Gray-Bauer of Waynflete battle for the ball during their Western Class C quarterfinal Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center. Carrabec won, 49-37.

Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

Mercedes Welch got a fitful night’s sleep as she battled a sudden illness.

So the Carrabec post players formed a relay of sorts to oust defending champion Waynflete 49-37 in a Western Class C girls’ basketball quarterfinal Tuesday.

Stevens took care of the first quarter, scoring all six of her team’s points. Welch ran the anchor leg, putting in 11 of her 19 points in the fourth quarter to forestall any hopes of a Flyer rally.

Stevens said her nerves went away when she looked up at the scoreboard and saw Waynflete leading 5-0. The Cobras (16-4) had gone 6 minutes without scoring.

“I just took it to the hoop like my coach told me to and my dad’s coached me to do,” Stevens said. “We definitely stepped it up and decided that the nerves don’t matter, we’ve just got to win it.”

Stevens made a tough layup and drew three fouls, converting four free throws to help her team trail only 7-6 after the first quarter. She didn’t score again, but it hardly mattered. Seven of her teammates did as Carrabec slowly picked up confidence and momentum.

Waynflete Coach Brandon Salway looked back at that first quarter as a pivotal moment.

“We had a chance to have momentum. It was 5-0 and I felt like we had the better play early,” he said. “I feel like we missed an opportunity there early in the game to kind of play from ahead.”

Waynflete lost in the quarterfinals for the first time in eight years. The Flyers were led by Leigh Fernandez with 13 points; Helen Gray-Bauer added 10.

Carrabec was relentless on the boards, outrebounding the Flyers 44-24. The Cobras built a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but then Welch had to sit because of foul trouble. Waynflete (13-7) went on a 9-0 run and seemed to find its footing. But Mickayla Willette drove the left baseline for a layup just before the third-quarter buzzer to restore a six-point cushion. It was her only basket of the game.

“I think we finally woke up a little bit and realized how hard we have to play to be successful in here (the Augusta Civic Center),” Salway said. “I’m glad we got to that point finally, but I think we just didn’t have the legs at the end.”

The fourth quarter belonged to Welch, a 5-foot-9 senior who said her illness manifested itself throughout the game, whenever she ran. She persevered.

“We needed to stay focused. We needed to get our heads in the game and finish our layups, and finish the game,” she said of the mood entering the fourth quarter.

Waynflete routed Carrabec in a preliminary round game a year ago en route to the state championship. That memory was not lost on the Cobras, the players said.

“It was definitely good fire,” Stevens said. “We didn’t want that to happen again.”

Welch, who helped her team reach the semifinals for the first time in 12 years, hopes her sickness is behind her.

“I feel great now,” she said.

Salway saw his team’s season end in the quarterfinals for the first time in eight years. He knew last season’s championship was just a memory as this season dawned. He had four seniors, but they needed to become different players this year.

“This is a tough tournament ... and I don’t take that for granted. It’s hard to win here,” Salway said. “And so I think the kids did a good job in filling those roles, but they were in very different roles this year.”

Mark Emmert can be contacted at 791-6424 or:memmert@pressherald.comTwitter: MarkEmmertPPH
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