Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By Travis Lazarczyk
AUGUSTA — When the Dirigo girls’ basketball team took its first lead of the game with less than six minutes remaining Thursday in a Western Class C girls’ basketball semifinal, Madison High players shrugged it off and looked at the clock.
Plenty of time left. Why panic?
“You’ve got to play the whole quarter,” Madison Coach Al Veneziano said. “Sometimes you get caught up in a close game (as if) the next shot or the next basket is the game-winner. You’ve got to play the eight minutes.”
Dirigo’s lead lasted 12 seconds. Emily McKenney’s layup put Madison ahead again, this time for good, and the Bulldogs held on for a 62-58 win at the Augusta Civic Center.
No. 5 Madison (15-6) will face its rival, No. 3 Carrabec (17-4), in the regional final Saturday. No. 8 Dirigo ends the season at 13-8.
Madison’s seniors built the early lead, then reclaimed it in the fourth. Kirsten Wood and Alex Jarvais, who each finished with 12 points, combined for 18 in the first quarter. In the fourth, Jarvais and McKenney each had four points, including a layup by Jarvais with 2:19 to go that pushed Madison’s lead to 57-52.
The Bulldogs said their experience was key to holding off the Cougars. Madison has reached the tournament three years in a row and also plays at the Augusta Civic Center in an annual Christmas tournament.
“We knew how to come out and keep our composure and play as a team,” said Wood. “That helped us have a little bit of an edge.”
Madison also got contributions from underclassmen. Sophomore Kayla Bess scored 12 of her 15 points in the third quarter, helping Madison build a nine-point lead. Sophomore Emily Oliver scored seven of her nine points in the third.
“I thought the seniors came in and gave us some great minutes at the end of the game. They really showed their patience and their poise,” Veneziano said. “The younger kids did the job early, and those guys just sealed it. It was awesome.”
The Bulldogs controlled the boards throughout the game, grabbing 15 offensive rebounds.
“Tonight I thought we went at the boards and were very intent going after rebounds. I’m very pleased with that,” Veneziano said.
Madison led 26-22 at the half, and a Bess 3-pointer pushed the lead to 45-36 with 1:20 left in the third quarter. The Cougars responded with a 14-4 run, taking their brief lead on a free throw by Jessica Conant (13 points).
Lauren Henderson and Kelsey Hutchins each scored 15 points for Dirigo. Wood and Erin Whalen had seven rebounds apiece for Madison.
Travis Lazarczyk can be contacted at 861-9242 or at: