Girls’ Basketball – Press Herald Mon, 20 Nov 2017 22:55:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 College coaching legend Gary Fifield named girls’ basketball coach at Cheverus High Thu, 15 Jun 2017 22:19:19 +0000 Two years of retirement was apparently enough for Gary Fifield, the legendary former head coach of the University of Southern Maine women’s basketball program.

Cheverus High announced in a press release on its website Thursday that Fifield was its girls’ basketball coach.

“I’m back coaching,” said Fifield in a phone interview. “This one will be a little less stressful. And a lot more fun.”

The 64-year-old Fifield retired in 2015 after 27 seasons as head coach of the Huskies women’s basketball team. He had a career record of 660-137 and led USM to five NCAA Division III Final Four appearances. USM appeared in three national championship games.

His 660 victories were sixth all-time among NCAA Division III coaches when he retired.

He had spent the the 2015-16 season as an assistant coach at Appalachian State, which is coached by Angel Elderkin, one of his former players at USM.

He did not coach last year but the pull of the basketball court was still there.

“During the winter it’s sometimes tough to find things to do here,” said Fifield. “I enjoy the coaching and teaching part, and I missed that and missed building relationships and helping young adults mature and grow.”

He had considered calling local high schools and offering to join their staffs as a volunteer. Then he got a call from a Cheverus alum, asking him if he would consider coaching the Stags. Fifield met with Athletic Director Gary Hoyt and soon had the job.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Al Bean, the athletic director at USM, wasn’t surprised at the news.

“Gary likes working with kids,” he said. “This gives him a chance to do what he likes best.”

Fifield already has met his players and is looking forward to working with them in the summer to learn what they can do. The Stags went 11-8 last winter, losing in the Class AA North quarterfinals.

Fifield last coached at the high school level in 1987, when he left South Royalton (Vermont) High to join USM. He knows there’ll be a difference in how he coaches the Stags from the Huskies.

“Certainly there will be differences in the complexity of what we are running,” he said. “And what kids can do at the college level from a skill or technical standpoint is different. The more skills they have the more things you can do. So there will be differences. But at the same time I’m going to push them to the limits to help them be the best players/team we can be.”

Fifield is a member of the USM Husky Hall of Fame, the New England Basketball Hall of Fame and the Maine Sports Hall of Fame. He will be inducted into the Maine Basketball Hall of Fame in August.

“I hope the players enjoy the experience and have some fun,” he said. “At the same time, I’m going to teach them how to play the game and if we have some players with college potential, I can advise them in that direction. I have a little experience with that.”

Fifield replaces Steve Huntington, who coached the Stags for three seasons.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Fifield laughs with former players during a ceremony honoring him at the University of Southern Maine in 2015. (Staff photo by John Ewing/Staff photographer)Fri, 16 Jun 2017 14:07:09 +0000
Team of the Year: Girls’ basketball team, Vinalhaven Sun, 21 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Want to be a player on the Vinalhaven girls’ basketball team? Easy. Here’s all you need to do.

Get on the ferry to Rockland on Friday afternoon – it leaves at 1 p.m. When you get to the mainland, get a comfortable seat on the bus; the drive to the game could be up to 21/2 or three hours.

Remember to bring pajamas, because you’ll be sleeping in the gym after the game, and then waking up early Saturday morning to play another game before getting back on the bus, and then back on the ferry to make it back home by Saturday afternoon or evening.

Simple enough, right?

“I’m too old for it, I’ll tell you that,” Coach Sandy Nelson said, laughing.

That’s just life on the island, and this year, buses and ferries and gymnasiums doubling as hotels were no match for the Vikings. Vinalhaven went 14-4 in the regular season and then rolled to its first state championship, topping Shead 55-44 in the Class D state final to earn distinction as the Team of the Year at the Varsity Maine Awards.

“We have a very, very healthy respect for each other, which I think is very important,” Nelson said. “They’re just great kids.”

And talented. Led by captain and point guard Paige Dennison, Vinalhaven rolled past Highview Christian Academy, Temple Academy and then Forest Hills in the playoffs. When the time came to tackle Shead, Nelson knew her team wouldn’t be stopped short.

“We just opened it up, we were ready to go,” she said. “They were not to be denied, and they played wicked good defense that day.”

Tall tasks and challenges are nothing new at Vinalhaven, where just getting to the game is an ordeal. Long rides on sea and land are only part of the hassle; there are also ferry delays and cancellations, which can threaten an entire weekend.

“Sometimes there’s a medical emergency the night before and the morning ferry won’t go,” Nelson said. “That’s why when we came up for the tournament we came up a night ahead and stayed in a hotel room. Because you never know.”

The fact that the Vinalhaven system runs as efficiently as it does still bewilders Nelson.

“We have what we call bumps in the road, and somehow, some way, we just get through them,” she said. “If I didn’t experience this, I would never believe it.”

For the players, however, it’s a way of life. They get pizza for the ferry, snacks for the drive – Nelson said the team never, ever misses a chance to reload at Hannaford and Subway in Rockland – and use the time together as a chance to bond as teammates.

“You know what? It is what it is. And that’s what they’re used to,” Nelson said. “If we don’t go, we don’t compete. We need to compete.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

]]> 0 girls' basketball team from Vinalhaven, Class D state champions, accepts its Team of the Year award at the Varsity Maine Awards.Fri, 19 May 2017 09:56:37 +0000
The Better Neighbor: Emily Jefferds, Scarborough Sun, 21 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 If you play third base for a high school softball team as strong as Scarborough, you often take a position roughly 15 feet from the batter to defend bunts. You wear a facemask in case of a screaming line drive, but you can’t be squeamish.

Emily Jefferds, a 17-year-old junior, laughed at such a suggestion. “No, not at all,” she said.

Not only does Jefferds trust her quick hands for protection, she feels comfortable poking herself in the stomach with needles for necessary injections of insulin. She does it eight to 10 times a day because she has Type 1 diabetes.

Diagnosed at age 7, Jefferds not only learned to manage her disease through blood-sugar testing and injections. She also advocates for research, raising money and traveling to Washington to speak with members of Congress, including Sen. Susan Collins and Rep. Chellie Pingree.

Jefferds, who also plays shooting guard in basketball, was honored as The Better Neighbor at the Varsity Maine Awards.

“When I think of Emily, I just smile,” said Tom Griffin, Scarborough’s softball coach, who also taught Jefferds in middle school. “Just a wonderful spirit about her, an absolute joy to be around.”

Griffin said Jefferds is a solid hitter who is starting to drive the ball more this year and is “probably the most improved kid from last year to this year.”

After every class and practice, he said, Jefferds made a point to say thank you. Dealing with diabetes helped her mature.

“There are times she’s low and she’ll let me know,” Griffin said. “I haven’t had to take her out of a game yet, but some practices she’s had to sit for a while and get some sugar in herself.”

Jefferds credits her grandmother, Loretta Hothersall, an advocate for the American Diabetes Association, for inspiration. Jefferds has spearheaded fundraising walks, bike rides and even a pajama day when she was in fifth grade.

“She’s got a special gift, this kid,” Hothersall said. “She likes telling people, ‘This is what it’s like to live with diabetes. Please help me to find a cure.’ ”

Jefferds said there are Type 2 diabetics in her family. According to the ADA, 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes each year and about one in 400 people younger than 20 have it.

“I know what I have to go through,” said Jefferds, who is considering medical biology as a field of study in college. “I just don’t want other people to go through that, so I really would like to get a cure as soon as possible and make a stop to this.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH

]]> 0 Jefferds of Scarborough accepts her Better Neighbor award during the 2017 Varsity Maine Awards.Fri, 19 May 2017 09:55:36 +0000
Unsung Hero: Lydia Henderson, South Portland Sun, 21 May 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Over the last four years, the girls’ basketball team at South Portland High won 80 percent of its games, going 64-17 and advancing to the Class AA South title game each of the past two seasons.

And Lydia Henderson was right in the middle of all that success.

Oh, you probably wouldn’t find the senior guard among the Red Riots’ leading scorers, but she was there in every dribble, every pass deflected, every steal, every forced turnover.

That’s why Henderson, who is heading to Bentley University, was named the Unsung Hero at this year’s Varsity Maine Awards.

“I told her as a freshman she would have an impact on our success,” said Lynne Hasson, whose first year as head coach was Henderson’s freshman year. “If you look at us, why we have been so good, it’s because we were so good defensively. And she was the leader of the defense.”

Henderson, 18, laughed a little when talking about the award.

“I was excited but it’s kind of ironic,” she said. “I won the Unsung Hero award but I’m not really (unsung) anymore if I’m getting the award.

“It does mean a lot. I always prided myself on just working hard and doing the little things that I think people outside the team don’t really see. It’s nice to get some credit.”

Henderson – who also played field hockey (her best sport, she said) and tennis (No. 2 doubles) for South Portland – loved being in the gym in a big game. And she feels fortunate to have played in so many over these last four years.

“I was lucky to be part of four really solid teams and every year we got better and better,” she said.

Her role, unsung as it may have been, fit her well, according to Hasson.

“I think she always put team first,” said Hasson. “It was always team first and I don’t think she regretted that approach for one second.

“She didn’t care (about individual statistics) and that’s what was so special about her. If I had to start a team, Lydia would be one of my first couple of kids to start a team with. She was one of the reasons we did so well. There was no drama. Great leadership. A sense of humor. And a great work ethic.”

Henderson, who will study mathematical sciences at Bentley, said she simply did what was needed.

“I focused on getting the ball to people I know who would make the shot,” she said. “I made sure I contributed the little things, like boxing out or applying defensive pressure, to make sure we stayed together as a team. It wasn’t necessarily about getting the points.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 it was applying defensive pressure, boxing out or just hustling, Lydia Henderson was a complete player for South Portland.Fri, 19 May 2017 09:59:20 +0000
High school basketball: Class AA tournament moving to Portland Sat, 01 Apr 2017 01:17:06 +0000 The Maine Principals’ Association accepted a proposal Friday that moves the boys’ and girls’ Class AA North tournaments from Augusta to Portland and increases the number of qualifying teams.

Class AA would still include North and South regional tournaments, but the semifinals and championship games would be played at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena. Quarterfinal games will be played at the site of higher-seeded team. For the last two years, the Class AA North tournament has been played at the Augusta Civic Center.

“I want to commend the 17 (Class AA) schools for being able to come up with something they all can live with,” said Dick Durost, the executive director of the MPA. “By the same token, the basketball committee voted unanimously to accept the proposal. Everyone is trying to do right by the kids.”

Joe Russo, coach of two-time defending Class AA state champion Portland, applauded the move. The Bulldogs have played in Augusta the last two years, often in late starts and in front of sparse crowds.

“That’s awesome,” he said. “The ones who are going to benefit are going to be the family and fans. They’re the ones who really missed out. The players will play anywhere and they don’t care what time the game starts. Once the ball is tossed up, it didn’t matter if it was midnight or 2 in the morning, they were going to play.

“Now, not only are you guaranteed a better crowd, but the people who supported you are going to be able to go to the game too.”

The proposal was crafted by the 17 Class AA schools in response to a request by the MPA to come up with a plan that was fair to all schools. The majority of Class AA schools play in the Portland area, with the exceptions of Oxford Hills, Edward Little, Lewiston and Bangor.

The proposal stipulates that eight schools, or 66 percent of the region (whichever is greater), will qualify for the tournament. The last two years only six teams qualified. Quarterfinal games will be played at the site of the higher-seeded teams.

By qualifying eight teams, it eliminates the bye that the top two seeds endured the last two years, often going 12 days between games. It also allows Bangor – the school with the greatest travel costs – to potentially host a quarterfinal game. “It’s an acknowledgment of Bangor’s geographic uniqueness,” said Gary Stevens, the athletic director at Thornton Academy in Saco.

The North and South semifinals and championship games will be held at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena. No site has been set for the Class AA state championship games.

The schools felt it important to maintain the regional tournaments. “It’s meaningful to the community, to a group of students,” said Stevens. “You’re playing for a title.”

Mike Murphy, the coach of the Deering girls’ basketball team, which played in Augusta, agreed. “It gives the kids a shot at least at one side, no matter who it is,” he said.

Everyone involved praised the process for making the switch. Gary Hoyt, the athletic director at Cheverus, made the presentation to the MPA’s Basketball Committee on Friday morning.

“It was nice to see the reception to our proposal was professional and receptive,” he said. “They gave us an opportunity to present a solution to the issue. They reviewed the solution and agreed.”

Attendance was down in the Class AA tournament games this year. But Durost said the decision was not based only on attendance.

“The attendance was down, particularly in the North region in Augusta,” he said.

“But I don’t think we’re looking at it as much form a money standpoint, especially when we’re giving them the opportunity to do quarterfinals at the higher seed.

“It will just be better for kids and for fans. It’s certainly worth trying for the next two-year cycle. If we feel it needs tweaking, we will revisit it. I think this is a positive step.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Gloucester players celebrate their victory over Lincoln Academy in the Class B South regional final Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Patriots will play for the state championship on Friday. (Staff photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)Fri, 31 Mar 2017 23:07:50 +0000
Class AA basketball regional tourney games moving to Portland Fri, 31 Mar 2017 19:51:52 +0000 The Maine Principals’ Association accepted a proposal Friday that moves the boys’ and girls’ Class AA North tournaments from Augusta to Portland and increases the number of qualifying teams.

Class AA would still include North and South regional tournaments, but the semifinals and championship games would be played at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena. Quarterfinal games will be played at the site of higher-seeded team. For the last two years, the Class AA North tournament has been played at the Augusta Civic Center.

“I want to commend the 17 (Class AA) schools for being able to come up with something they all can live with,” said Dick Durost, the executive director of the MPA. “By the same token, the basketball committee voted unanimously to accept the proposal. Everyone is trying to do right by the kids.”

Joe Russo, coach of two-time defending Class AA state champion Portland, applauded the move. The Bulldogs have played in Augusta the last two years, often in late starts and in front of sparse crowds.

“That’s awesome,” he said. “The ones who are going to benefit are going to be the family and fans. They’re the ones who really missed out. The players will play anywhere and they don’t care what time the game starts. Once the ball is tossed up, it didn’t matter if it was midnight or 2 in the morning, they were going to play.

“Now, not only are you guaranteed a better crowd, but the people who supported you are going to be able to go to the game too.”

The proposal was crafted by the 17 Class AA schools in response to a request by the MPA to come up with a plan that was fair to all schools. The majority of Class AA schools play in the Portland area, with the exceptions of Oxford Hills, Edward Little, Lewiston and Bangor.

The proposal stipulates that eight schools, or 66 percent of the region (whichever is greater), will qualify for the tournament. The last two years only six teams qualified. Quarterfinal games will be played at the site of the higher-seeded teams.

By qualifying eight teams, it eliminates the bye that the top two seeds endured the last two years, often going 12 days between games. It also allows Bangor – the school with the greatest travel costs – to potentially host a quarterfinal game. “It’s an acknowledgment of Bangor’s geographic uniqueness,” said Gary Stevens, the athletic director at Thornton Academy in Saco.

The North and South semifinals and championship games will be held at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena. No site has been set for the Class AA state championship games.

The schools felt it important to maintain the regional tournaments. “It’s meaningful to the community, to a group of students,” said Stevens. “You’re playing for a title.”

Mike Murphy, the coach of the Deering girls’ basketball team, which played in Augusta, agreed. “It gives the kids a shot at least at one side, no matter who it is,” he said.

Everyone involved praised the process for making the switch. Gary Hoyt, the athletic director at Cheverus, made the presentation to the MPA’s Basketball Committee on Friday morning.

“It was nice to see the reception to our proposal was professional and receptive,” he said. “They gave us an opportunity to present a solution to the issue. They reviewed the solution and agreed.”

Attendance was down in the Class AA tournament games this year. But Durost said the decision was not based only on attendance.

“The attendance was down, particularly in the North region in Augusta,” he said.

“But I don’t think we’re looking at it as much form a money standpoint, especially when we’re giving them the opportunity to do quarterfinals at the higher seed.

“It will just be better for kids and for fans. It’s certainly worth trying for the next two-year cycle. If we feel it needs tweaking, we will revisit it. I think this is a positive step.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0, ME - MARCH 4: Boys basketball Class AA state championship between Portland and South Portland. Griffin Foley of Portland rides a sea of fans while celebrating their championship. (Staff photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)Fri, 31 Mar 2017 21:32:48 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Emily Esposito, Gorham Sun, 26 Mar 2017 08:00:00 +0000 Emily Esposito of Gorham was the driving force for the state’s best team each of the last two seasons.

When the game was on the line, Emily Esposito wanted the ball. And when she got it, good things usually happened.

Esposito, a senior guard at Gorham, made the big plays when the Rams needed them and ended her high school career with 42 consecutive wins and two Class AA state championships.

“I couldn’t have planned it any better,” said Esposito. “Forty-two-and-oh. Two state championships. Lots of life lessons along the way. I was overwhelmed with joy and happiness (when the Rams defeated Oxford Hills in the Class AA final, 45-31). I went out the best way possible. And I went out with my best friends.”

Esposito also finished her career as the Maine Sunday Telegram’s Player of the Year in girls’ basketball. Bound for Division I Villanova University, Esposito averaged 19.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 steals and 4.0 assists to help the Rams complete back-to-back 21-0 seasons. She finished her career with 1,446 points, 555 rebounds, 277 steals and 247 assists.

And she was always at her best when the Rams needed her most.

Case in point: the Class AA state title game in Augusta. With the Rams leading only 26-24, Esposito scored seven consecutive points late in the third quarter – including a 3-pointer with seven seconds remaining – to give the Rams a nine-point lead heading into the fourth.

“That’s what you expect from a kid going to Villanova,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Giordano. “That’s the kid you lean on in those situations.”

Giordano and other SMAA coaches called Esposito an explosive offensive player, capable of beating opponents by driving to the basket, pulling up for a mid-range jumper or hitting a 3-pointer. She was also a fearless competitor and underrated defender.

Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume said Esposito was a special leader as well. He saw her mature in the four years she started for him.

“I think as she got older, the ability to move on from one play to the next got easier for her,” he said. “When she was young and made a mistake, it was easy for her to second-guess herself. There was none of that this year. She just kept playing.”

She became a role model and a mentor for the young players on the team, not just for her talent but how she played the game. “She was very strong-willed, has a strong personality,” said Berthiaume. “Once she set her mind to something, good things happened for the team.”

Now Esposito is looking forward to her next challenge at Villanova. She took a few weeks off after the season ended, then began working out again.

“I think I’m ready for the next step,” she said. “I’m ready to learn from the best.”


Alisha Aube, Thornton Academy senior forward: A repeat All-State selection, Aube led the Trojans with 17.8 points per game and also averaged 5.1 rebounds. She led the SMAA in 3-point shooting. Aube, who finished her career with over 1,200 points, has committed to play at Division I Butler.

Kolleen Bouchard, Houlton junior forward: A returning All-State selection, the 6-foot-1 Bouchard is one of the state’s top all-around players. In helping Houlton win the Class B North title, she averaged 23.0 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 3.1 blocked shots and 2.1 assists. She has 1,405 career points.

Katie Butler, Bangor senior center: A finalist for Miss Basketball, the 6-3 Butler helped the Rams advance to the Class AA North semifinals. She averaged 15.1 points, 15.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists 2.8 blocked shots and 2.1 steals. Butler will play at Tufts.

Lauren Chadwick, Gardiner senior point guard: Chadwick led the Tigers in scoring (14.4 points per game) and steals (3.4), and was second in assists (2.5). She finished her career with 975 points. She is undecided on which college she will attend.

Anna DeWolfe, Greely sophomore point guard: A repeat All-State selection, the 5-6 DeWolfe helped Greely reach the Class A South final, leading the Rangers in scoring (23.5 points per game), assists (4.2) and steals (3.4) She also averaged 3.9 rebounds. DeWolfe is being recruited by several Division I schools.

Emily Esposito, Gorham senior guard: A four-time All-State selection, and this year’s Miss Basketball and Telegram Player of the Year, Esposito led Gorham to its second consecutive Class AA title and 42 straight wins. She averaged 19.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 steals, and finished with 1,446 career points. She will play at Division I Villanova.

Mackenzie Holmes, Gorham sophomore center: The 6-2 Holmes was a dominating inside presence. She averaged 18.0 points, 9.6 rebounds and 4.8 blocked shots in helping Gorham win its second consecutive Class AA state title. Holmes is being recruited by several Division I schools.

Sophie Holmes, Messalonskee senior guard: A finalist for Miss Basketball, Holmes led the Eagles to the Class A state title by averaging 21.2 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.1 steals and 2.2 assists. A four-year starter, she finished with 1,389 points and 727 rebounds in her career. She is undecided on which college she’ll attend.

Madeline Suhr, Brunswick senior center: Suhr had an outstanding season in leading the Dragons to their first appearance in the Class A state final. She averaged 14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 3.7 steals. Suhr, who finished her career with 813 points, will play at Roanoke (Va.) College.

Tasia Titherington, Deering senior guard: In helping Deering to the Class AA North championship game, Titherington averaged 14.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 2.4 steals. Undecided about college, she finished her career with 996 points.

Ally Turner, Messalonskee junior point guard: At 5-11, Turner had the ability to play just about anywhere on the court. She averaged 9.8 points, 6.0 assists, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 steals for the Class A champion. Turner often guarded the opponent’s best offensive player.

Brie Wajer, Lincoln Academy senior guard: The 5-7 guard sparked Lincoln Academy to the Class B South final for the second consecutive year. She averaged 17.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 3.4 steals. She finished with 1,019 career points and will play at Division II Wingate (N.C.) University.


Mike Andreasen, Gray-New Gloucester: Andreasen coached a team without any one standout player, but a group that stood out for its balance and defensive intensity. Each player trusted her teammates to step up when needed. Andreasen rotated his players perfectly, developed their skills and made them one of the best teams around, losing only once while earning the school’s first Class B state championship.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Esposito rose above the competition during his four years at Gorham, scoring more than 1,400 points while leading her team to back-to-back Class AA championships and 42 consecutive wins.Sat, 25 Mar 2017 18:05:45 +0000
Monmouth wins Class C girls basketball title Sun, 05 Mar 2017 01:30:36 +0000 BANGOR — For the first time in school history, Monmouth Academy is a state basketball champion.

Junior forward Abbey Allen scored a team-high 18 points and Monmouth toppled Dexter 46-37 in the Class C girls basketball state championship game. It was the first state title for a Monmouth team in either girls or boys basketball.

The Mustangs (19-3) used a late second quarter run to power to the title. Junior point guard Tia Day added 13 points.

Monmouth started slowly as Dexter built up a 9-4 lead just two minutes into the period, but the Mustangs came charging back. Day hit the first of her two second-quarter 3-pointers as Monmouth started to find its shooting touch, setting off a 12-4 run to close out the first half.

The Mustangs took a 16-13 lead into the halftime break and held Dexter (16-5) at bay in the third quarter. Megan Peach scored 10 of her game-high 20 points for the Tigers in the third quarter, but Abby Ferland’s long jumper was followed by Julia Johnson’s 3-pointer to open the fourth, and the Mustangs were out to their largest lead of the night at 35-27. Key foul shooting by Monmouth over the final three minutes, much as it had done in the regional championship game against Old Orchard Beach a week earlier, put the game out of reach.

This story will be updated.

]]> 0 Sat, 04 Mar 2017 22:07:44 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gorham repeats as Class AA champion Sun, 05 Mar 2017 00:48:47 +0000 AUGUSTA — As the final horn of her high school career blared, Emily Esposito stood near center court at the Augusta Civic Center and slammed the basketball as hard as she could into the floor.

It was a statement, an emphatic one, that she wanted everyone to see and hear.

“Even though we were down, it’s Gorham basketball,” said Esposito, of her statement. “We were going to work our tails off and come back to prove we were the better team.”

And that’s exactly what Gorham did. The Rams completed their second consecutive undefeated season Saturday night, using a strong defensive effort to pull away from Oxford Hills 45-31 in the Class AA championship game. In winning its 42nd consecutive game and second consecutive state championship, Gorham held the Vikings to just nine points over the final 16 minutes.

“It’s pretty special,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Bertiaume. “We’ve never really looked ahead too far, but this is going to be fun to look back on.”

Esposito scored 20 points and had six steals to lead the Rams while junior forward Michelle Rowe had 11 points and seven rebounds and sophomore center Mackenzie Holmes eight points, 13 rebounds and three blocks.

Oxford Hills, which finished 19-2, challenged the Rams like few teams had this year, opening a nine-point lead in the second quarter fueled by hot shooting – the Vikings shot 47 percent in the first half – and Gorham’s offensive difficulties.

But after Maighread Laliberte gave Oxford Hills a 16-7 lead on a 3-pointer from the right corner with 6:47 left in the second quarter, Gorham’s defense clamped down. The Rams finished the first half on a 17-6 run, tying the game on a 3-pointer by Courtney Brent with 1:44 left in the second quarter and going ahead on an inside move by the 6-foot-2 Holmes – who faced a triple-team every time she got the ball down low – with 1:00 remaining.

Gorham would never trail again.

While Oxford Hills tied the game at 24 on a spinning layup by Julia Colby with 5:38 left in the third quarter, Gorham regained its focus. Rowe hit two foul shots with 3:11 left to make it 26-24, then Esposito – who will next play at Villanova University – scored the final seven points of the third quarter to give Gorham a 33-24 lead into the fourth.

First was a foul-line jumper in which she showed the defender the ball then spun away. Then a 12-foot pull-up jumper and finally a 3-pointer from the left of the key.

“She really wasn’t going to be denied,” said Berthiaume. “She’s been the best player and she acted like it today.”

Oxford Hills wouldn’t go away, three times pulling within seven points in the fourth quarter. The final time was at 37-30 with 2:50 left on two foul shots by Erin Morton. But the Rams converted 6 of 8 foul shots down the stretch – three each by Esposito and Rowe – to pull away.

There’s no question that Gorham’s defense keyed this championship. After Oxford Hills came out hot, the Vikings struggled to get into any offensive rhythm. They scored just two points in the third quarter and endured a scoreless drought of 8:48 between the third and fourth quarters.

“All in all, we wanted to give ourselves a chance to win,” said Oxford Hills Coach Nate Pelletier. “We just could not put the ball in the basket. The goal was to keep them under 50 and if we kept them under 50 we’d have a chance to win.

“And we were able to do that. Defensively our girls gave everything they got. But they played good defense too. They weren’t allowing our kids to be comfortable anywhere they were.”

Esposito said the Rams were not going to be denied.

“I know I’m going on to play college basketball,” said Esposito. “But it’s not going to be the same. When you do it with your friends, people you grew up with, it’s different. You enjoy it more.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Esposito of Gorham celebrates with a teammate after scoring a basket during the Class AA girls' basketball state final Saturday against Oxford Hills. Esposito finished with 20 points, helpling the Rams finish their second straight undefeated season.Sun, 05 Mar 2017 16:38:39 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Messalonskee overruns Brunswick for Class A title Sat, 04 Mar 2017 19:34:55 +0000 AUGUSTA — It’s a simple formula, really, for the Messalonskee High girls’ basketball team: start fast and play great defense.

The Eagles did both Saturday and the result was stunning.

Messalonskee scored the first seven points of the game, built a 15-point lead in the first quarter and cruised to the Class A state championship, beating Brunswick 58-33 at the Augusta Civic Center.

The Eagles hit six of their first 12 shots and never cooled off much, hitting 41 percent for the game. And their stifling man-to-man defense forced the Dragons into 23-percent shooting.

“That’s really what we knew we had to do,” said Keith Derosby, coach of the Eagles. “We had to take the game in the first couple of minutes. Brunswick is just too good to not be there. That’s what we talked about, win the first tip, win the first quarter and then worry about everything else later.”

It was Messalonskee’s first state championship in Class A – it won a state title in Class B in 1987 – and completed a 22-0 season.

“This is a dream come true,” said Messalonskee senior guard Sophie Holmes. “You dream about cutting the nets down, holding the game ball and then just showing it to the community, to everyone who comes to support every game. It’s just beyond words.”

Holmes led Messalonskee with 21 points and four steals, jump-starting the Eagles with seven first-quarter points. Her banked-in 3-pointer from the top of the key gave Messalonskee a 17-2 lead with 1:01 left in the first quarter. It was a nearly flawless first eight minutes for the Eagles, who led 17-7 when the quarter was over.

“You have to set the tone, you have to come out strong and put your foot on the gas and show them what you’re made of,” said Ally Turner, the junior guard who scored 12 points for Messalonskee.

Brunswick would get within 17-9 on a Madeline Suhr layup 1:05 into the second quarter. But the Dragons missed their next seven shots and committed five turnovers as Messalonskee regrouped with a 10-0 run. Holmes started it with a layup and ended it with a jumper, giving Messalonskee a 27-9 lead with 2:07 left in the first half.

Holmes said the Eagles had watched the tape of Brunswick’s comeback from a 14-point deficit against Greely to win the Class A South title and weren’t going to let up.

“We’ve seen them do that so we knew we had to adjust and stick to our defense,” she said. “Defense wins championship.”

It certainly won this game.

“We talked about it all week,” said Sam Farrell, the coach at Brunswick. “To win a championship you’ve got to make plays and you’ve got to make shots. They made a lot of shots and we missed a lot.”

Brunswick, which was led by Sabrina Armstrong with 13 points and Suhr with 10, uncharacteristically missed a lot of inside shots, especially on offensive rebounds – they had 17 in the game and scored only four points off them.

“Just one of those nights,” said Farrell. “You’re coaching high school kids. You don’t always know what’s going to happen.”

Messalonskee would lead 29-13 at the half and slowly pulled away in the third. A 3-pointer by Alyssa Genness gave the Eagles a 43-18 lead. And Messalonskee led 45-21 entering the fourth.

All that was left was the celebration, which began with 1:41 remaining when Derosby began taking his starters out. Holmes, who finished her career with over 1,400 points, came out with 1:03 left and leaped into Derosby’s arms before everyone else came in for a jubilant group hug.

“It’s great to give those starters the chance to come off and get that applause,” said Derosby. “We would have taken a one-point (win) but this was nice.”

Derosby lauded the heart of his players, and their focus.

“They never got ahead of themselves, they never thought they were bigger than the game or bigger than their opponent,” he said. “They met every challenge. They went into every contest thinking if we don’t play our best we can lose. ”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 junior Ally Turner swings the net after the Eagles captured the Class A girls' basketball state championship game with a 58-33 win over Brunswick. (Staff photo by Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer)Sat, 04 Mar 2017 22:09:02 +0000
Girls’ basketball: How the Class AA teams match up Sat, 04 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 WHO: Gorham (20-0) vs. Oxford Hills (19-1)

WHEN: 6 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Augusta Civic Center

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Gorham – seeded first in South – defeated Maine Girls’ Academy (53-23), South Portland (46-44) in playoffs; Oxford Hills – seeded first in North – defeated Bangor (69-36), Deering (46-41, OT) in playoffs.

KEY PLAYERS: Gorham – Emily Esposito, sr. G (19.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 3.9 steals), Mackenzie Holmes, so. C (19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks), Kaylea Lundin, sr. G (7.3 points, 3.5 assists, 2.1 steals), Kristen Curley, sr. G (3.2 points, 4.3 rebounds), Michelle Rowe, jr. F (5.4 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists); Oxford Hills – Julia Colby, fr. G (11.4 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.7 steals), Jadah Adams, so. C (10.8 points, 7.0 rebounds), Erin Morton, sr. G (9.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists), Maighread Laliberte, jr. F (9.4 points, 4.1 rebounds), Erin Eastman, sr. G (6.0 points, 2.0 rebounds).

WHAT GORHAM HAS TO DO TO WIN: The Rams have to play good man-to-man defense. Oxford Hills has a very balanced offense with shooters at every position and the Rams cannot afford to lose track of any of them. Gorham typically uses its defense to jump-start the offense, often leading to long scoring runs. Offensively the Rams have to be patient, run their offense and go to the offensive boards. In Esposito and Holmes they have two of the state’s top scorers and will look to get them the ball in good position to score. But there’s more to this team than just those two. You can bet at some point Lundin is going to make two or three plays in a row that will change the momentum. She will get the team running when it’s available and set up the offense when the Rams need to.

WHAT OXFORD HILLS HAS TO DO TO WIN: Defensively the Vikings have to somehow slow down Gorham’s Esposito and Holmes, the state’s best inside-outside duo. Adams is strong inside and will likely try to play Holmes with some help. Oxford Hills is going to have to rebound well defensively to keep the Rams from getting second and third shots. Offensively the Vikings are going to do what they always do. They don’t rely on any single scorer and they spread the ball around quickly. They are not afraid to take the 3-point shot, especially when Eastman comes in off the bench. If Oxford Hills gets into a rhythm and hits its outside shots, it’s going to be right there with the Rams.

– Mike Lowe

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Mar 2017 19:27:22 +0000
Girls’ basketball: How the Class A teams match up Sat, 04 Mar 2017 09:00:00 +0000 WHO: Brunswick (18-3) vs. Messalonskee (21-0)

WHEN: 1 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Augusta Civic Center

HOW THEY GOT HERE: Brunswick – seeded second in South – defeated Kennebunk (57-42), York (43-35), Greely (54-51) in playoffs; Messalonskee – seeded first in North – defeated Gardiner (67-56), Hampden Academy (70-31), Nokomis (55-39) in playoffs.

KEY PLAYERS: Brunswick – Madeline Suhr, sr. F (14.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 4.2 blocks, 3.8 steals), Sabrina Armstrong, jr. G (11.7 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 2.4 steals), Charlotte MacMillan (7.9 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 3.5 steals), Brooke Barter, sr. F (6.1 points, 5.2 rebounds), Aidan Sachs, sr. F (5.5 points, 4.9 rebounds); Messalonskee – Sophie Holmes, sr. G (21.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.2 steals, 2.3 assists), Ally Turner, jr. G (9.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.5 steals), McKenna Brodeur, sr. C (9.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.2 steals), Gabrielle Wener, fr. G (8.6 points, 5.9 rebounds), Makayla Wilson, jr. G (4.6 points, 3.1 rebounds).

WHAT BRUNSWICK MUST DO TO WIN: It all comes down to defense for the Dragons, who give up just 37.4 points per game. They can’t let the Eagles get running and they cannot let the Eagles get open looks from the outside. The Eagles are too good offensively to let them run what they want. Look for MacMillan to take on Holmes in Brunswick’s man-to-man alignment. Offensively Brunswick will take what the Eagles give them. The Dragons have shown the ability to play inside-out and that won’t change. They’ll drive to the basket when you give it to them or push it back out for an open 3-pointer. And they’re not afraid to put up a shot from anywhere. Brunswick has to be able to hold its own on offensive rebounding. If the Dragons get second shots, they’ll be tough to beat.

WHAT MESSALONSKEE MUST DO TO WIN: The Eagles like to get out fast. They’ve opened big early leads in all their playoff wins. Much of their offense is fueled by a harassing defense that contests shots and forces turnovers. And if the Eagles can rattle the Dragons, they will force turnovers. Brunswick had 27 in the Class A South title game. Holmes can break down a defense by herself – a great offensive threat – but she has plenty of help. Turner is a 5-11 point guard who knows when to push the ball and when to pull it out. Messalonskee doesn’t force much offensively, seeming always to find the open player. If the Eagles can maintain possession and force the Dragons into foul trouble, they will have a big advantage.

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Mar 2017 22:34:01 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gorham seeks second consecutive Class AA title Sat, 04 Mar 2017 03:45:00 +0000 GORHAM — They are the defending Class AA girls’ basketball state champions. They have won 41 consecutive games.

Yet the Gorham girls’ basketball team is driven by just one thing – to keep getting better.

“We’ve worked hard to get where we are,” said Mackenzie Holmes, the 6-foot-2 sophomore center. “But we feel we still have a lot of stuff to improve on.”

Like what?

“The little things,” said Holmes. “Like getting loose balls, getting every rebound, playing good offense and defense.”

This is a team that seeks to play a perfect game. Its next effort will come at 6 p.m. Saturday when Gorham (20-0) takes on Oxford Hills (19-1) in the Class AA championship game at the Augusta Civic Center.

“Coach (Laughn) Berthiaume always says before a game, ‘We’re chasing perfection,’ which is a good quote to start us off,” said senior guard Emily Esposito, who will play next at Villanova. “I think it’s just we’re all competitors and don’t want to settle for beating a team by this much. We want to win and be proud of it and have a good one.”

It all starts in practice. The Rams, who have two of the top five players in the state in Esposito (19.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.9 steals per game) and Holmes (19.1 points, 9.3 rebounds, 4.6 blocks), go at each other as hard as possible.

“It’s good to see, we push each other around, we make each other better,” said Esposito. “It’s not like if someone pushes someone around we’ll have hurt feelings. I think that’s what’s different about this team, we can get on each other and yell at each other for the better of the team. People are OK with that. They know it’s coming from a good place.”

And the Rams are better for it.

“We have a number of girls who have benefited from playing against our starters in practice,” said Berthiaume.

As junior forward Michelle Rowe said, “You’re playing against some of the better competition in practice. … On this team, it’s as good as it gets.”

In addition to Esposito and Holmes, the Rams feature senior point guard Kaylea Lundin and senior guard Kristen Curley, two outstanding leaders.

“Obviously we all want to work hard,” said Holmes. “And they are great leaders so we want to do well for them. We come in and bust our butts and try to be as successful as we can.”

Berthiaume said that work ethic has fostered a tight-knit relationship.

“They really don’t want to let each other down,” he said. “They want to make sure they’re each doing their part and collectively it’s been a pretty good product when they do that.”

They seldom, if ever, talk about the winning streak. “I don’t think we have ever looked at number of wins in a row or talked about it,” said Berthiaume. “You don’t get to win that many games in a row by looking ahead. We’re going for just one more game right now and we haven’t looked any further than that ever.”

The Rams expect a tight game from Oxford Hills, which was last in the state title game in 2014. The Vikings are athletic and can shoot the ball, a lot like the Rams’ opponent in the Class AA South title game, South Portland. Gorham won that game 46-44, and it was as close as the score indicates.

“There’s a lot to be said for the experience we gained there,” said Berthiaume.

That game displayed all of the Rams’ strengths, including depth. Rowe, often unheralded, made the game-changing steal and hit two foul shots in the final minute.

For her, this season has been living up to the great expectations placed on the Rams by their fans and the media.

“People set high expectations for us this season and that’s what kind of drives us,”she said. “We kind of have to live up to the expectations.”

]]> 0's Emily Esposito is one of the state's best players and along with Mackenzie Holmes gives the Rams a 1-2 punch that's hard to match.Fri, 03 Mar 2017 22:51:50 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gray-New Gloucester holds off Houlton for Class B title Sat, 04 Mar 2017 00:44:32 +0000 AUGUSTA — Skye Conley has always compared winning a state championship to seeing a unicorn, an event that could only be imagined by the Gray-New Gloucester girls’ basketball team.

Friday night, said her teammate Izzy DeTroy, “Skye saw the unicorn.”

Gray-New Gloucester won its first state championship, defeating Houlton 35-31 in the Class B state title game at the Augusta Civic Center. The two had met last year in the state final in Bangor, with Houlton winning 48-35.

But Conley, a senior center for the Patriots, wasn’t going to let that happen again. She scored all 12 of her points in the second half and assisted two critical baskets in the fourth quarter. Conley also had 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.

“This means absolutely everything,” said Conley. “We’ve been working for this since we were in the sixth grade. And to work together since that age up to now and to be able to accomplish this with a 100 percent team effort, it’s just something that is just so unimaginable.”

It didn’t come easily. But then, as GNG Coach Mike Andreasen said, “We didn’t expect it to.”

The Patriots had to overcome some early adversity, falling behind 6-0 as they struggled against Houlton’s opening 1-3-1 zone. But they dug in defensively, holding Houlton scoreless for a 9:33 stretch in the first half, and took a 16-11 lead when Alicia Dumont hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

“It really helped our momentum,” said Conley. “It was a fantastic shot.”

Then when Houlton came out in a man-to-man defense in the second half, Conley thrived.

“Ultimately, we felt we needed to go player-to-player,” said Houlton Coach Shawn Graham. “They have such good shooters, it was only going to last for so long.”

Conley scored all eight GNG points in the third quarter, giving the Patriots a 24-16 lead with 1:57 left in the quarter.

Houlton fought back behind the play of junior guard Kolleen Bouchard, who scored 16 points. Her 3-pointer with 6:37 left brought the Shiretowners within 26-25. But they could never move ahead.

Freshman Jordan Grant hit one foul shot with 4:15 left to make it 27-25. Then Conley spun around Bouchard and put in a left-handed shot to make it 29-25. Houlton’s Aspen Flewelling hit two foul shots to make it 29-27.

Then Conley, on the left, found Grace Kariotis cutting to the basket for a layup and the Patriots led by four again. Graham called that “the big dagger.”

Conley found Grant for a back-door layup with 1:26 left and the Patriots led 33-27. Again the Shiretowners cut it to two when Bouchard scored with 49 seconds left. But sophomore Bri Jordan hit two foul shots with 7.7 seconds left – the first hitting the back rim, going straight up and dropping through – to make it 35-31.

“I didn’t think the first one was going in,” she said. “I was so nervous.”

That shot at least allowed Andreasen to think about the title. “I didn’t breath until Bri made her second foul shot,” he said. “And even then, with Bouchard … Our defense won it tonight”

Conley blocked Houlton’s final shot, then smiled broadly as she held the ball in the final seconds.

“It’s all about them,” Andreasen said of his players. “They did it. They made it a mission after we lost in the state game last year. When we lost that game they made it the goal to get back.”

Gray-New Gloucester had a big edge in rebounding, 36-22, which wasn’t surprising since Houlton lost one of its top rebounders, Kristen Graham, to a knee injury in the last regular-season game. That the Shiretowners, who won the Class C state title two years ago, were so close was a testament to their players.

“I thought we gave it a valiant effort against a fantastic team,” said Graham. “And we still had a chance.”

But the Patriots weren’t going to let this one go.

“It feels really amazing,” said DeTroy. “I’m hoping this starts a trend. We just worked so hard for this. I’m so excited for everyone.”

]]> 0 Gloucester's Haley Kirby celebrates after the Patriots beat Houlton 35-31 to win the Class B state championship game Friday night at the Augusta Civic Center.Sun, 05 Mar 2017 21:54:37 +0000
Gray-New Gloucester vs. Houlton girls’ basketball: How they match up Fri, 03 Mar 2017 18:59:48 +0000 WHO: Gray-New Gloucester (20-1) vs. Houlton (20-1)
WHEN: Friday, 6:05 p.m.
WHERE: Augusta Civic Center
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Gray-New Gloucester (seeded first in South) defeated Freeport (57-24), Lake Region (33-29) and Lincoln Academy (46-32) in playoffs; Houlton (seeded first in North) defeated Mt. Desert Island (47-39), Hermon (37-33, OT) and Foxcroft Academy (42-31) in playoffs
Gray-New Gloucester: Skye Conley, sr. C (10.6 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.7 steals), Izzy DeTroy, sr. F (8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 steals), Alicia Dumont, sr. G (6.5 points, 1.8 assists), Grace Kariotis, sr. G (7.2 points), Bri Jordan, so. G (10.1 points, 5.7 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 3.2 steals).
Houlton: Kolleen Bouchard, jr. G (24.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 4.2 assists), Aspen Flewelling, jr. F (11.1 points, 5.0 rebounds), Rylee Warman, sr. G (11.1 points, 3.0 steals, 3.0 assists), Makayla Watson, sr. C (4.1 points, 4.1 rebounds), Kristen Brewer, jr. G (3.1 points, 2.0 rebounds).
WHAT GRAY-NEW GLOUCESTER MUST DO TO WIN: Simply put, the Patriots have to hit their shots, especially from the outside. In losing to Houlton in the state game last year, Gray-New Gloucester shot just 32 percent and missed all six 3-point attempts. Part of that might have been nerves – the Patriots were making their first state game appearance in 14 years – but with five players returning from that game, that won’t be an excuse this year. Bri Jordan has really stepped up lately to give the offense a boost but this team doesn’t rely on any one shooter. Defensively, the Patriots can’t let Bouchard take over. Jordan likely will guard her but may need help inside. Look for the Patriots’ man-to-man defense to pressure the Houlton ballhandlers to make each pass difficult.
WHAT HOULTON MUST DO TO WIN: The Shiretowners suffered a big loss when junior forward Kristen Graham, daughter of Coach Shawn Graham, suffered a knee injury in the final regular-season game. Her loss affects how the Shiretowners defend teams and inbound the ball. Bouchard is one of the state’s top players, capable of controlling a game inside or on the perimeter with her 3-point shooting. But she’s will need help offensively against the Patriots’ tight man-to-man defense, which gave up more than 40 points just once this season. The Shiretowners will likely slow the pace down, hoping to get into a half-court game, and run only when the opportunity arises. Defensively, Houlton will need to find a way to control Gray-New Gloucester’s aggressive drives.

]]> 0 Fri, 03 Mar 2017 13:59:48 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gray-New Gloucester has ‘unfinished business’ in state title game Fri, 03 Mar 2017 01:52:33 +0000 GRAY — Gray-New Gloucester High’s journey to the Class B girls’ basketball state championship game began minutes after its loss in the title game 12 months ago.

Fans and boosters held a banquet for the team in Bangor after the game last year, celebrating the school’s first appearance in the final in 14 years.

But, noted Coach Mike Andreasen, not everyone was in the mood to celebrate.

“The kids were withdrawn, especially the underclassmen,” he said. “I think in the back of their minds there was unfinished business.”

Friday, the Patriots will have a chance to take care of it.

Gray-New Gloucester (20-1) will play Houlton (20-1) for the Class B state title at 6:05 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center in a rematch of last year’s championship game. Houlton won that one 48-35, pulling away in the final minutes.

“This game is one that many wanted,” said Andreasen. “So now we’ll just take our shot. I hope we’ll be better mentally prepared for this one, just be in a better mindset, more calm.”

They should be. The Patriots start four seniors and a sophomore, all of whom played in the state game last year. The seniors – center Skye Conley, forward Izzy DeTroy, and guards Alicia Dumont and Grace Kariotis – have been instrumental in advancing the team from an underdog role to one of the best in Class B statewide. The sophomore, guard Bri Jordan, doesn’t play like one.

“They came in just as we were forming our program,” Andreasen said of the seniors. “And we preached all along, hold yourself to a higher standard. Being good enough isn’t good enough. These kids really wanted more.”

Conley, who led the team in scoring (10.6 points) and was second in rebounding (5.6) in the regular season, said Andreasen told them to reach for great things.

“We hold ourselves to high expectations on the court and in the classroom,” she said. “And we’ve worked our hardest to not only meet them but exceed them.”

Those expectations are passed along to each freshman that enters the program, a fact that Andreasen said “can be daunting.”

But some, such as Jordan, thrive. As a freshman she played a lot, joined by her older sister, Ashley, who graduated last spring. This year Bri Jordan has become one of the Patriots’ top players, leading the team in rebounding (5.7), tied for the lead in assists (3.2) and steals (3.2), and second in scoring (10.1). Then, after scoring 16 points to lead the Patriots to the Class B South championship over Lincoln Academy, Jordan was named the outstanding player of the tournament.

Her older teammates, said Andreasen, were thrilled for her.

“She’s an amazing player,” said Conley. “We grew up with her and her older sister so the chemistry was easy to build on the court. We know she puts in just as much work in the offseason and know that she’s playing her heart out like we are. We treat her like a senior, too. We see us all as equals for sure.”

“We just think of her as another player,” said Dumont. “She plays above her age, she’s confident and composed. It doesn’t matter the age, we just treat her as another player on the court.”

Jordan said it was easy to step into the starting lineup because “I had grown up with them, so when I came in as a freshman I knew all of them.”

Andreasen said Jordan is a gifted athlete. She’s the team’s point guard, but at 5-foot-10 is also one of its tallest players. “I consider her our best defender,” said Andreasen, meaning she likely will guard Houlton’s all-state player, Kolleen Bouchard.

Dumont said the regional final was “definitely the best game we’ve ever seen her play.” But Jordan noted that anyone on this team could have done it.

“Somebody has to take shots and I happened to be making some of mine,” she said. “Coach always says if you’re making them, why not take the next one? I think we all have the ability to have those nights. We don’t have a best player. We all have our different talents and together we make a team. We make a good team.”

And again, that team is playing for a state championship.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Bri Jordan has stepped right into a senior-laden team for Gray-New Gloucester and made an impact.Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:01:29 +0000
Girls’ basketball: For Brunswick, it’s finally time to be noticed Thu, 02 Mar 2017 03:56:46 +0000 BRUNSWICK — Sam Farrell can’t go anywhere these days without someone coming up to shake his hand. Same with the players on his girls’ basketball team at Brunswick High. Strangers offer congratulations wherever they go.

That’s what happens when your team makes history.

On Saturday, Brunswick will play in a girls’ basketball state championship game for the first time. The Dragons (18-3) will meet undefeated Messalonskee (21-0) for the Class A state title at 1 p.m. at the Augusta Civic Center.

“A lot of people are talking about it,” said Madeline Suhr, the senior forward whose 22-point performance in the Class A South final propelled the Dragons to a 54-51 win over top-seeded Greely. “I feel all the hard work we put in for the last four years has paid off and it’s great to see that happen.”

As great as this is for the team, junior guard Sabrina Armstrong said it’s better for the program.

“It’s a big deal for a lot of people, especially the younger kids,” she said. “A lot of junior high and elementary kids were at that game, and they thought it was cool that the girls won.”

“Maybe some of those girls were undecided between hockey and basketball,” said Farrell, in his eighth year as head coach. “Maybe that game turns them to basketball.”

But that’s for later. For now there’s work to do. As Farrell told them before practice Tuesday, “There are only 10 girls’ teams practicing in this state right now. And you’re one.”

He gave them two days off to enjoy the championship. On Monday, when the players reported for practice, he surprised them by offering a choice to watch “Hoosiers” or “Goonies.” They chose “Hoosiers,” which pleased Farrell. “I mean, I don’t know if there’s a better basketball movie,” he said.

Tuesday they were back at practice, running fast-break drills, shooting free throws and doing whatever is needed to prepare.

Suhr and Armstrong talked about using the positive energy from the win over Greely to keep pushing forward. But they know the key to winning the game is to continue doing what they have done all year, which is to focus on each drill, each practice and each game.

“That focus started the first game, actually in the preseason,” said Farrell, “where we were always prepping for the next game. We never looked ahead. And if you keep that mentality all the time, you hope it gets you (to the final).”

To the Dragons, the only significance to the final is they’re in it.

“There’s a prize at the end of it,” said Armstrong, “but it’s just another game.”

Yes, they know there will be nervous moments. But senior forward Brooke Barter said this team is unlike any other she’s played on at Brunswick: much closer, more trusting. “We’re always open with each other,” she said. “We just work hard together. We push each other.”

Practice, said Armstrong, was something they looked forward to. They trust that on any night, someone will make a game-changing play. Maybe it’s Suhr with her shooting, or Armstrong with her energy, or Barter with her rebounding, or sophomore guard Charlotte MacMillan with her defense, or senior Aidan Sachs with a timely basket.

“We all know where everyone’s strengths are,” said Barter. “And everyone has a set role.”

Suhr led the Dragons with 14.5 points, 9.2 rebounds, 3.8 steals and 4.2 blocked shots per game. Armstrong was next with 11.7 points and 5.2 rebounds with 3.4 assists. MacMillan, who guards the best offensive opponent, averaged 7.9 points, Barter 6.1 points and Sachs 5.5 points.

This team stresses defense, giving up only 37.4 points per game. And it starts in practice. “They get after it,” said Farrell. “There are some bumps, some bruises, some scratches.”

While few people expected the Dragons to get this far, Farrell noticed this team was different right away.

“They razz on each other but they support each other,” he said. “Every kid is included in everything they do.”

And now they’re playing for a championship.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Sachs, left, and Brooke Barter share the honor of cutting the final strands of the net after Brunswick beat Greely to win the Class A South final.Wed, 01 Mar 2017 22:58:20 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Monmouth tops Old Orchard Beach in Class C South final Sun, 26 Feb 2017 01:38:51 +0000 AUGUSTA — Third-seeded Monmouth Academy rode a record-setting performance at the free-throw line to the Class C South girls’ basketball championship at the Augusta Civic Center on Saturday night.

The Mustangs sank 30 of 38 foul shots to roll to a 65-25 win over No. 4 Old Orchard Beach in their first trip to the Class C regional final. They had won Western Class D titles in 1991, 1998, 1999 and 2000.

Monmouth Academy will play North champion Dexter for the state championship Saturday at Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

“This is great,” said Monmouth Academy guard Tia Day, who received the Robin Colcord Award as the Class C South tournament’s most valuable player. “It’s great, especially with this group of girls. We are such great friends, (and) so many of us have put in so much extra work.”

The Mustangs sank 25 of 32 free throws during the first three quarters to open a 50-20 lead. Monmouth sank 5 of 6 free throws in the fourth quarter to eclipse the tournament’s record of 28 made free throws set by Hall-Dale in 1981.

“We’ve been doing a lot of competition in free throws,” Day said. “Free throws are very important to us.”

Abbey Allen led Monmouth with 17 points. Julia Johnson, a sophomore reserve followed with 12 points. Hannah Anderson added 11 points. Day scored 10 points.

Emily Greenlee led the Seagulls (12-8) with nine points.

Monmouth Academy held a 27-14 lead at the end of the first half.

The Mustangs got off to a great start, pulling into an 8-0 lead less than five minutes into the game.

It took the Seagulls a while to leave the starting gate. They missed all eight of their shots and committed eight turnovers during the first quarter.

“We had no flow,” Old Orchard Beach Coach Dean Plante said.

“We got into foul trouble early. We were apparently overly aggressive, I don’t know.”

Monmouth Academy (18-3) sank only two of its 13 shots during the first quarter, but it sank 5 of 8 free throws to build an early 10-2 lead.

Old Orchard Beach got untracked offensively in the second quarter. The Seagulls opened with an 8-2 run, moving to within a point of the Mustangs when Samantha Donnell hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key to make it 12-11 with 3:25 left in the first half.

The Mustangs finished the first half with a 13-4 run, sinking 7 of 8 free throws in the process to move back into a comfortable lead.

“We got out of our flow early and never got into sync,” Plante said. “We couldn’t use (the) combinations we wanted to because we were in foul trouble.”

Monmouth took a 30-point lead at the end of the third quarter by outscoring Old Orchard, 23-6. The Mustangs made 11 of 13 free throws in the third.

“Hats off to Monmouth,” Plante said. “They were the better team tonight.”

With 1:59 left in the game, Johnson, a sophomore reserve, sank two free throws to set the tournament record for made free throws. She sank all 10 of her free throws.

]]> 0 Orchard Beach's Meghan LaPlante, left, boxes out Kaeti Butterfield of Monmouth as they go after a rebound during the Class C South championship game Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center. Monmouth won, 65-25.Sat, 25 Feb 2017 22:59:01 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Brunswick stuns Greely, wins first regional title Sun, 26 Feb 2017 00:39:52 +0000 Wow. Just, wow.

Down 14 points early in the third period, Brunswick High dug in defensively and rode the all-around brilliance of Madeline Suhr to a stunning 54-51 upset of top-ranked Greely in the Class A South girls’ basketball championship game Saturday night at Cross Insurance Arena.

Suhr scored 22 points, hitting all eight of her shots – including five 3-pointers – and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the second-ranked Dragons to their first state-final appearance.

Her three-point play with 1:12 left gave Brunswick a 50-48 lead it wouldn’t lose.

“She’s amazing,” said Brooke Barter of the Dragons. “She, honestly, connects the team in a way that I didn’t think possible. She carries the team. She inspires us.”

Brunswick (18-3), which lost to Greely 61-46 in the regular season, will play Messalonskee (21-0) in the state championship game at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Greely (19-2) started slow but gained control in the second quarter, limiting the Dragons to two points. When Isabel Porter (19 points) hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game with 6:20 left in the third, the Rangers led 31-17.

“For a second we were a little worried,” said Suhr, named the tournament’s outstanding player. “But the defense kept turning the ball over to the offense and that turned into points. We got up there pretty fast.”

“Team defense. We contested their shots and got back to playing Brunswick basketball,” said Coach Sam Farrell. “Do what we do in practice. I don’t care who we play.”

The deficit was down to 36-32 entering the fourth after Barter put in her own offensive rebound. Greely pushed the lead to six twice, but each time the Dragons responded. The lead changed five times in the last three minutes, with Barter (eight of her 14 points in the fourth) and Suhr leading Brunswick’s charge while Anna DeWolfe (11 of her 16 points in the fourth) paced Greely.

The Rangers took their last lead with 1:51 left on a 12-foot leaner from the right by freshman Brooke Obar. The Dragons turned the ball over but following a timeout, Suhr made a steal. She came down the court, converted a layup and was fouled. Suhr missed her four previous foul shots but this time was pure with the shot and Brunswick led 50-48 with 1:12 left.

“I was definitely telling myself not to miss it,” said Suhr. “I knew that was a very important free throw.”

DeWolfe came down and hit one foul shot but missed the second with Suhr rebounding. Both teams traded turnovers before Sabrina Armstrong hit two foul shots with 14.5 seconds left to make it 52-49. DeWolfe hit two foul shots with 10.9 seconds left but the Dragons broke the press, leading to two foul shots by Barter with 3.3 seconds remaining to clinch it.

“We didn’t execute and make some shots we typically make,” said Rangers Coach Todd Flaherty. “And they made a lot of shots … They hit shots when they had to. Give credit to them.”

Brunswick won despite 27 turnovers. But the Rangers only scored 11 points off those turnovers and Brunswick scored 18 points off 19 Greely turnovers.

“I still can’t believe we won that game,” said Barter. “It’s incredible.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0's Sabrina Armstrong drives to the basket against Brooke Obar of Greely during the Class A South girls' basketball final Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena. Brunswick upset the top-seeded Rangers, 54-51.Sun, 26 Feb 2017 12:19:03 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gray-NG heads back to Class B state title game Sat, 25 Feb 2017 19:34:40 +0000 Bri Jordan woke up Saturday morning feeling good. Confident, in fact.

And she showed it Saturday afternoon at the Cross Insurance Arena.

Jordan, a sophomore guard, scored 16 points to pace a second-half surge that carried top-ranked Gray-New Gloucester to a 46-32 victory over sixth-seeded Lincoln Academy in the Class B South girls’ basketball championship game.

She had seven points in the third quarter when the Patriots took control.

It was Gray-New Gloucester’s second consecutive Class B South title, both wins coming over the Eagles. The Patriots (20-1) will play Houlton (20-1) in a rematch of last year’s Class B state title game at 6 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center.

“It feels unbelievable,” said Skye Conley, a senior center for the Patriots. “We’ve all put in so much work, been playing AAU together since fifth grade, going to clinics together. To accomplish this really took a total team effort.”

Jordan was presented the Mike DiRenzo Award, given to the tournament’s outstanding player/sportsperson.

“To expect Bri to score 16 … I wouldn’t have expected that,” said Coach Mike Andreasen. “Maybe eight to 10. For her to give us 16 and work as hard as she did (defensively, guarding Lincoln Academy star Brie Wajer), she was fabulous for us.”

The Patriots struggled early against Lincoln Academy’s matchup zone, trailing 8-5 after one quarter. But their man-to-man defensive pressure wore down the Eagles and helped open up the offense.

The Eagles (15-6) shot just 24 percent for the game, missing all nine 3-point attempts, and never got into any kind of rhythm.

“They just simply put the clamps on us,” said Lincoln Academy Coach Kevin Feltis. “Give all the credit to them.

“It’s a tiring game out there. They put the clamps on you and make you do things you don’t want to do.”

Still, Lincoln Academy led 17-15 early in the third quarter after an offensive rebound basket by Kortney McKenna. A Jordan 3-pointer from the top of the key with 5:57 left in the third put the Patriots ahead 20-17. They wouldn’t trail again.

After Wajer (11 points) scored inside for Lincoln Academy to pull within three, the Patriots scored the final eight points of the third quarter – a basket by Grace Kariotis, a jumper by Jordan, a steal and layup by Jordan, and two foul shots by freshman Jordan Grant – to take a 32-21 lead into the fourth.

“It was good that the kids didn’t panic,” said Andreasen. “The game the other day (against Lake Region), in the third quarter I saw something in the kids’ eyes I hadn’t seen all year. There was some panic. That day they were able to defensively regroup.

“Today we were able to offensively regroup.”

Jordan, who fouled out with 3:50 remaining, hit a 3-pointer to start the fourth to make it 35-21. Lincoln Academy got no closer than 12 as Grant scored six in the fourth and Izzy DeTroy added four.

“I woke up this morning having confidence in myself and my team,” said Jordan. “I felt better than I have all year.”

Like her coach, Jordan said a key was that the Patriots didn’t panic when they struggled offensively.

“When we’ve been down before, we’ve kind of struggled coming back,” she said. “This game, we just opened up together as a team and played a good team effort.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Gloucester players celebrate their victory over Lincoln Academy in the Class B South regional final Saturday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Patriots will play for the state championship on Friday. (Staff photo by Derek Davis/Staff Photographer)Sat, 25 Feb 2017 17:02:54 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Oxford Hills tops Deering in overtime to win AA North title Sat, 25 Feb 2017 01:42:03 +0000 AUGUSTA — Top-seeded Oxford Hills sank all nine of its free throws in overtime to capture the Class AA North girls’ basketball championship Friday night with a 46-41 win against No. 3 Deering at the Augusta Civic Center.

Jadah Adams, a sophomore center, and Julia Colby, a freshman guard, scored 13 points apiece to lead the Vikings (19-1) to their first regional final since they played for the Class A championship three years ago.

Deering’s Tasia Titherington, a senior guard who led all scorers with 21 points, received the Red McMann Award as the regional’s most valuable player.

The Vikings will play defending state champion Gorham (20-0) next Saturday night in Augusta.

“(Deering) battled all year and I’m just happy we played them tough,” Oxford Hills Coach Nate Pelletier said. “(If we) play them 10 times, we may win five. We just got lucky twice with them.”

In their regular-season meeting, Oxford Hills won 37-34 when Colby’s shot from midcourt beat the final buzzer.

“We played them tough during the regular season,” Deering Coach Mike Murphy said. “Both teams don’t give an inch, obviously. I’m proud as hell of the effort we had.”

The Vikings built a 16-7 first-quarter lead, mainly on the inside play of Adams. She scored their first 10 points and dished off to Colby after an offensive rebound for a 3-pointer that made it 15-5.

Deering rallied in the second quarter, however, closing to within three points. Titherington led the charge by sinking 7 of 9 free throws and driving the left baseline for a hoop with less than a minute left in the first half to cut the deficit to 21-18.

Adams, meanwhile, was assessed a technical foul and a blocking foul with 1:44 left in the half. Saddled with three fouls, she sat out the rest of the first half and the first four minutes of the second half.

Deering opened the third quarter with a 9-2 run to move into a 27-23 lead. Titherington then completed a three-point play to make it 30-24, but Maighread Laliberte cashed in a rebound and Erin Eastman hit a 3-pointer just before the buzzer, leaving Deering with a 30-29 lead.

The teams combined for only seven points in the fourth quarter, when Oxford Hills took a lot of time off the clock by running a delay offense.

The Vikings turned the ball over twice, and one of those turnovers led to a fast-break basket by Mandy Mastropasqua that tied the score at 33-33 with 1:40 left. Deering missed two hurried shots in the final 10 seconds of regulation.

Adams, who hadn’t scored a point since the first quarter, completed a three-point play in overtime to snap a 35-35 tie and give the Vikings the lead for good.

]]> 0's Tasia Titherington drives to the basket while being guarded by Krystin Paine of Oxford Hills during the first quarter of the Class AA North final Friday in Augusta. Oxford Hills beat Deering 46-41 in overtime.Fri, 24 Feb 2017 22:54:40 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gorham holds off South Portland for second straight Class AA South title Sat, 25 Feb 2017 00:30:30 +0000 Championship games are not always decided by star players.

On a team with Emily Esposito and Mackenzie Holmes – two of the state’s top five players – Michelle Rowe carved her name into Gorham High’s championship lore Friday night.

Rowe made three game-changing plays in the final 50 seconds to help top-ranked and undefeated Gorham hold off second-seeded South Portland 46-44 in the Class AA South girls’ basketball championship game at Cross Insurance Arena. Rowe, a junior forward, made a steal with the score tied, hit two foul shots to break the tie and then assisted Esposito on what turned out to be the winning basket.

“Michelle made three championship plays at the end,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “She did a number of different things for us at the end to really help us win that game.”

The win was defending Class AA state champion Gorham’s 41st in a row and lifted the Rams (20-0) into the state championship game against Oxford Hills at 6 p.m. next Saturday at the Augusta Civic Center.

“This means everything,” said Esposito, a senior guard who is going to Villanova. “I was thinking about this game this morning and thought if we won, it would be sweet. Then I thought if we lost … I couldn’t even think about that, I got sick to my stomach. I couldn’t fathom losing.”

Esposito, who led the Rams with 17 points, was named the winner of the Edward “Red” McMann outstanding player/sportsman award for the second consecutive year. She suffered an injury to her right knee in the game’s final second after a collision with South Portland’s Meghan Graff but said afterward, “I’m OK.”

The win didn’t come easily. South Portland’s defense was exceptional, forcing 19 turnovers. And the Riots came out hitting 3s to build an early eight-point lead. An 8-0 run late in the second quarter pushed South Portland into a 26-22 halftime lead.

Then …

“We know how important the first three minutes of the third quarter are,” said South Portland Coach Lynne Hasson. “And they owned the first three minutes. And that hurt us.”

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Kaylea Lundin and Esposito put the Rams ahead. South Portland got its last lead at 29-28 on a foul shot by Katie Whitmore with 5:41 left.

With contributions from Courtney Brent and Holmes (12 points, seven rebounds), Gorham built a 42-36 lead with 5:04 remaining. But South Portland came back.

A jumper by Lydia Henderson and four consecutive foul shots by Eva Mazur (15 points, five steals) tied it at 42 with 3:09 left.

Then Rowe made her steal in front of the Riots’ bench with 50 seconds left. “Just got in the passing lane and got lucky, I guess,” said Rowe. She was fouled on her shot and calmly swished both free throws for a 44-42 lead with 44.2 seconds left.

“It’s just a free throw and I shoot it every day,” she said. “This one’s no different from any other one.”

After a South Portland miss, the Rams had the ball at midcourt following a timeout. Rowe inbounded the ball and passed to Esposito for a layup that made it 46-42 with 23 seconds left.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Rowe. “To be able to do this two years in a row is something not many teams get to do.”

]]> 0 celebrates after beating South Portland 46-42 in the Class AA South girls' basketball regional final Friday at Cross Insurance Arena.Fri, 24 Feb 2017 23:54:48 +0000
Girls’ basketball: OOB shuts down No. 1 Richmond Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:27:43 +0000 AUGUSTA — A tight Old Orchard Beach defense hampered unbeaten Richmond and its inside game. The Bobcats needed other weapons. They had none.

Old Orchard Beach dominated the second half and beat top-seeded Richmond 38-24 in a Class C South girls’ basketball semifinal Thursday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center.

The Seagulls trailed 17-14 with 3:56 left in the first half but took over from there.

Old Orchard Beach went on a 23-0 run over the next 16 minutes and 31 seconds, tying the game before halftime and jumping ahead 37-17 with 3:25 left in the fourth quarter.

“We played very good defense,” said junior forward Meghan LaPlante, who is listed on the roster at 5-foot-9 but plays as if she’s much taller.

LaPlante led OOB with 13 points and 13 rebounds.

No. 4 Old Orchard Beach (13-8) will play in the South final at 7 p.m. Saturday against No. 3 Monmouth Academy (18-3).

Richmond, which beat the Seagulls twice during the regular season, finished at 19-1.

Guard Mackenzie Abbott led Richmond with nine points, but the Bobcats’ 5-9 center, Sydney Underhill-Tilton, who averaged 17.5 points a game, was held to five, all in the first half.

“We focused on double-zero (Underhill-Tilton) a lot,” junior point guard Brianna Plante said. “She is a great player and we doubled down on her.”

When Underhill-Tilton did get the ball, she had LaPlante and 6-2 center Maggie Strohm swarming her.

“We knew coming in that she was probably going to be double-teamed,” Richmond Coach Mike Ladner said. “We needed to make our outside shots.”

Not only did the Bobcats miss from the outside, but in a tightly officiated game – 22 fouls in the first half – Underhill-Tilton got into foul trouble. She picked up her fourth foul with 4:48 left in the third quarter and left the game. She returned with 5:38 remaining in the fourth and fouled out two minutes later.

“That stuff doesn’t get called during the regular season with two officials,” Ladner said. “But kudos to the officials; they did a good job. It’s a tighter game, that’s all.

“She got in foul trouble and our offense usually runs through her. When she’s not there, it makes it tough. It forces us to shoot from the outside, and we couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn from the outside today.”

Richmond shot 16 percent, including 1 of 15 in the second half.

Meanwhile, the Seagulls were heating up. They shot 40 percent, and of their 12 field goals, five were 3-pointers from four players – Emily Greenlee, Samantha Donnell, Kaitlyn Cote and Plante (two).

Richmond senior guard Meranda Martin said this was a different Old Orchard Beach team than the one the Bobcats beat by 15 points last month.

“They were a lot stronger than they were during the regular season. Give them kudos,” Martin said. “They made their shots and in the third quarter we couldn’t make anything.”

Old Orchard Beach, which survived a schedule that included Class B opponents, will play Monmouth for the first time this year.

“We play a tough schedule,” Coach Dean Plante said. “The regular season is a bit of a grind but it helps in the long run. Maybe we’re built for the postseason.”

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

]]> 0 Orchard Beach lost twice to Richmond during the regular season, but the third time was the charm for the Seagulls, who defeated the No. 1 seed Thursday to reach the Class C South final.Thu, 23 Feb 2017 22:42:18 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gray-NG survives Lake Region scare Thu, 23 Feb 2017 21:24:14 +0000 Trailing by a point entering the fourth quarter Thursday, Mike Andreasen had a simple question for his top-ranked Gray-New Gloucester girls’ basketball team.

“Coach said to us, ‘Do you want to go home or do you want to keep playing?'” said center Skye Conley. “That woke us up a bit.”

Gray-New Gloucester clamped down defensively in the final period to rally past fifth-seeded Lake Region 33-29 in a Class B South semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena.

The Patriots held the Lakers to three points in the final quarter and pulled ahead in the final 2:09 to advance to the regional final for the second consecutive year.

“We have four seniors,” said Andreasen. “They didn’t want this to be their last game.”

Gray-New Gloucester (19-1) will play sixth-ranked Lincoln Academy in the Class B South final for the second consecutive year. The Patriots won last year, 45-30. Lake Region finished 13-7.

This was a tight game throughout. Gray-New Gloucester’s biggest lead was six (21-15, which was the halftime score) and Lake Region’s biggest lead was three (10-7 early in the second).

The Lakers made a run in the third quarter, scoring the first six points to tie the game at 21. Then they moved ahead 26-23 on a 3-pointer by Kristen Huntress with 1:09 left in the third. Two foul shots by Conley with 14 seconds remaining pulled the Patriots within 26-25 entering the fourth – only the second time this year Gray-New Gloucester trailed going into the fourth.

“It was very stressful having it a one-possession game most of the game,” said Conley, who led the Patriots with 12 points. “We knew we had to keep trying to play our game, try to get some momentum going our way.”

Lake Region controlled the tempo in the third as the Patriots struggled to get anything going.

“Ball movement was good in (the third),” said Lakers Coach Paul True. “I thought we played a little more inside-out, which helped create more opportunities near the basket and on the perimeter.”

Those opportunities vanished in the fourth quarter as the Patriots held the Lakers to one basket – a 3-pointer by Chandler True with 5:28 remaining – that tied the game at 29.

Gray-New Gloucester only scored eight points in the fourth, but that was enough because of its defense. Conley gave the Patriots a 30-29 lead with a foul shot with 2:09 remaining. Then she blocked a shot on Lake Region’s next possession. That set up a sneak-away layup by Brianna Jordan (four of her seven points in the fourth) off an in-bounds play at half-court, giving Gray-New Gloucester a 32-29 lead with 51 seconds left.

Conley then got the rebound of a Lake Region inside miss. Alicia Dumont hit one foul shot with 18.8 seconds left to seal it.

“We just happened to make a few more plays than them,” said Andreasen. “It’s that simple.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 builds on the Gray-New Gloucester bench during the closing seconds of the Patriots' Class B South semifinal win over Lake Region at Cross Insurance Arena on Thursday. (Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer)Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:46:52 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Monmouth ousts Boothbay in Class C South Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:53:47 +0000 AUGUSTA — After his team played Boothbay twice during the regular season, Monmouth Academy Coach Scott Wing had a good read on the Seahawks during their Class C South girls’ basketball semifinal Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center.

Wing knew which players his team needed to stop, and his group followed the game plan to the letter as the third-seeded Mustangs beat the second-seeded Seahawks, 39-30.

“Today was just a picture-perfect execution of our defensive game plan,” Wing said. “For a bunch of 5-6, 5-7 girls to take away their inside game was pretty awesome, but they paid attention in practice and executed everything we wanted to do.”

The Mustangs (17-3) advanced to the regional final for the first time since 2008. They will play Old Orchard Beach at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in Augusta.

Boothbay, the defending regional champion, finished 18-2.

The key for Monmouth was shutting down Boothbay’s inside game, featuring 6-1 sophomore Faith Blethen and 5-11 junior Page Brown.

“We definitely slowed offensively,” said Boothbay Coach Tanner Grover. “I don’t know if it was our lack of execution, Monmouth’s defense or unfriendly rims, but we definitely had a poor offensive night, however you want to spin it.”

Against the Mustangs’ sagging man-to-man defense, the Seahawks sank only 15 of 56 shots (27 percent).

“They played off of our non-shooters and focused on our scorers inside,” Grover said.

“Monmouth’s a good team. The had a good (defensive) scheme and they stuck with it.”

The Mustangs shot slightly better, sinking 37 percent of their shots (10 of 27). Much of their scoring edge came from the foul line, where they sank 16 of 20 free throws (80 percent).

“As a team, we’re about 68, 69 percent (shooting free throws), which is pretty good when you consider all of the kids who shot free throws during the year,” Wing said.

Monmouth held a 19-14 lead at halftime.

Tia Day, a junior guard who scored 21 points, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Mustangs open a 13-8 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter. Two free throws from Abby Ferland and another outside shot by Day stretched the lead to 19-12.

Boothbay rallied in the third quarter, and the Seahawks carried a 25-23 lead into the fourth. With 4:12 remaining, the Seahawks still held a 27-26 advantage, but they were unable to sustain their momentum.

The Mustangs went into the bonus with 3:39 left and took advantage at the free-throw line.

Brown led Boothbay with 12 points.

During the regular season, the teams split two games. On Dec. 22, the Seahawks won 44-37 in Boothbay Harbor. On Jan. 21, the Mustangs downed the Seahawks 49-36 in Monmouth.

]]> 0's Page Brown, left, and Monmouth's Abbey Allen scramble on the floor for a loose ball as other players close in during a Class C South semifinal Thursday at the Augusta Civic Center. Boothbay won, 39-30. (Photo by Joe Phelan/Staff Photographer)Thu, 23 Feb 2017 19:24:57 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Lincoln Academy heads to Class B South final Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:16:44 +0000 Brie Wajer sparked the Lincoln Academy girls’ basketball team to a berth in the Class B South final for the second straight year – and did so while scoring her 1,000th career point Thursday.

Wajer scored 24 points and pulled down six rebounds for the Eagles in a 62-52 semifinal victory over Poland at Cross Insurance Arena. No. 6 Lincoln Academy (15-5) will play top-seeded Gray-New Gloucester for the regional title at 1 p.m. Saturday at CIA.

“We pulled out the win – that’s the biggest thing,” said Wajer, a senior guard. “The 1,000 points was obviously the icing on the cake.”

No. 7 Poland, which upset second-seeded Wells in the quarterfinals, ended its season at 12-8. Nathalie Theriault led the Knights with 18 points and Sarah Moody scored 13.

Despite trailing by double-digits several times, Poland always found a way to climb back into the game.

“It’s a big task coming back from 14 – especially with that Wajer girl making every shot,” said Poland Coach Michael Susi. “I thought we played her as best as we humanly could. She did not get an easy basket all night.”

Theriault, a junior guard, opened the game with a steal, which she turned into a three-point play. While charging the basket, Theriault collided with Lincoln Academy’s Dorothy Hodous, who was taken to the hospital after a hard fall.

Seven minutes later, the Eagles lost Kaitlyn Feltis to a knee injury for the remainder of the game.

Theriault continued her quick start, scoring eight points in the first three minutes. Moody, a junior guard, added another basket from behind the arc for the Knights’ biggest lead of the game at 11-4 with 4:30 left in the first quarter.

But Poland got into foul trouble early – committing 11 fouls in the first quarter – and had to sit starters Theriault, Jessica Seeley and Morgan Brousseau for much of the first half.

“It’s a different game if we don’t lose three starters to foul trouble,” Susi said. “We’ve got to play smarter in those situations.”

Cagney O’Brien, who scored 14 points, kicked off a 14-point run for Lincoln that would last into the second quarter. Wajer scored nine points in the first quarter to help the Eagles end the quarter ahead 14-11.

Moody ended the Knights’ scoring drought with a 3-pointer that cut Lincoln’s lead to 18-14. But the Eagles then scored another 10 consecutive points that increased their lead to 28-14 with 3:00 remaining in the half. Freshman Eleanor Mathews hit a 3 at the buzzer for Lincoln, which entered halftime up 35-23.

Halfway through the third quarter, Wajer drove into traffic and threw up a shot. The ball bounced off the backboard and through the net for a 41-32 lead, triggering wild cheers from spectators. The game was paused to recognize Wajer’s 1,000-point milestone.

“I said to her, ‘Nice job getting to 1,000, let’s go get the win,'” said Lincoln Coach Kevin Feltis.

The Knights stuck with the Eagles in the second half, outscoring them 14-11 in the third quarter to enter the final eight minutes down just 46-37. A Moody 3-pointer to start the fourth cut Lincoln’s lead to 46-40. It was the closest the Knights would get to closing the gap.

“Those kids are scrappers – they don’t give up,” Majer said of Poland. “They’re going to be great in the future.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

Twitter: TaylorVortherms

]]> 0 Academy's Brie Wajer pushes the ball up the court against Poland's Alexandria Grondin during a Class B South semifinal Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena. Wager scored her 1,000th career point in the Eagles' 62-52 victory. (Staff photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer)Thu, 23 Feb 2017 20:27:10 +0000
Wednesday’s high school roundup: Semifinalists named for Mr. and Miss Basketball Thu, 23 Feb 2017 01:40:48 +0000 Emily Esposito of Gorham, and the Greely tandem of Matt McDevitt and Jordan Bagshaw are among the Miss and Mr. Maine basketball semifinalists.

The awards honor the top high school seniors in the state, taking into account skill, leadership, respect for the game and sportsmanship. Three finalists for each award will be announced next week, and the winner will be announced March 10 at the Maine McDonald’s Senior All-Star banquet in Bangor.

Esposito, who has committed to play at Villanova, led Gorham to the 2016 Class AA title and is a three-time Maine Sunday Telegram All-State player. Gorham has won 40 straight games heading into the Class AA South final Friday against South Portland. Other Miss Maine semifinalists announced Wednesday are Katie Butler of Bangor, Megan Peach of Dexter, Jordyn Reynolds of Edward Little, Morgan Dauk of George Stevens, Emi Higgins of Hermon, Rylee Warman of Houlton, Sophia Holmes of Messalonskee, Emily Lagerstrom of Presque Isle and Emma Alley of Stearns.

McDevitt, a 6-foot-7 forward, and Bagshaw, a guard, are both captains for Greely, the top seed in Class A South and one of only three undefeated boys’ teams in the state. Other Mr. Maine semifinalists are Cheverus guard Jack Casale, Falmouth guard Colin Coyne, Medomak Valley forward Cam Allaire, Mason Cooper of Lawrence, Riley Swanson of Mt. Desert Island, Nate Desisto of Orono, Justin Thompson of Schenck and Jacob Hickey of Winthrop.


MESSALONSKEE 70, HAMPDEN ACADEMY 31: McKenna Brodeur and Sophie Holmes each scored 16 points and the top-seeded Eagles (20-0) routed the No. 5 Broncos (12-8) in a Class A North semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Messalonskee built a 39-19 halftime lead with the help of 12 points from Brodeur, who also played a big role in shutting down Hampden’s 6-foot-4 center, Bailey Donovan. Donovan was held to four points after she scored 21 against Lawrence in the quarterfinals.

The Eagles made 16 of 26 shots in the first half and ended the half with a 15-0 run.

Ally Turner contributed 14 points for Messalonskee.

NOKOMIS 45, SKOWHEGAN 32: Sidney Moore scored 20 points and the third-seeded Warriors (16-4) limited No. 2 Skowhegan (15-5) to 23 percent shooting in a Class A North semifinal victory.

Olivia Brown added 10 points for Nokomis. Annie Cooke led Skowhegan with 12 points.


MESSALONSKEE 64, SKOWHEGAN 55: James Kouletsis made a tying basket with time running out in regulation, and the fifth-seeded Eagles (15-5) pulled away in overtime to beat the eighth-seeded Indians (11-10) in a Class A North semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Skowhegan, which stunned previously undefeated Medomak Valley in the quarterfinals, was on the verge of another upset with a five-point lead in the final minute of regulation. But a three-point play by Dawson Charles and a 3-pointer by Nate Violette put Messalonskee in position to tie it in the closing seconds.

Violette finished with 25 points, and Kouletsis and Chase Warren each scored 13 for Messalonskee.

Skowhegan’s Cameron Barnes scored 27 points. Garrett McSweeney added 12.


PORTLAND/DEERING 3, BIDDEFORD 2: Dominic Tocci’s goal with 2:22 remaining gave the Bulldogs (10-7-1) a win over the Tigers (10-8) in a regular-season finale at Biddeford Ice Arena.

Biddeford took a 2-1 lead on Brady Crepeau’s second goal of the game with 8:56 remaining, but Walter Lewandowski tied it just 23 seconds later.

Joe Herboldsheimer also scored for Portland, which is expected to host a Class A South quarterfinal next week as the No. 4 seed.

SCARBOROUGH 5, SOUTH PORTLAND/FREEPORT/WAYNFLETE 1: Eric Murray dished out three assists and the Red Storm (10-7-1) scored three goals in the third period to pull away from the Red Riots (7-11) at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee.

Cam Smith had a goal and an assist, and Skylar Pettingill, Brett Rockey, Wyatt Palmer and Sam Neugebauer added a goal apiece for Scarborough, which led 2-1 going into the third.

Gus Lappin scored for South Portland off an assist from Max Winson.

YORK 6, GREELY 2: Julius Lundgren had two goals and an assist to lead the Wildcats (15-2) over the Rangers (11-6) at Family Ice Center in Falmouth.

Ryan Sullivan and Andrew Moore tallied third-period goals for Greely.

WATERVILLE 8, OLD TOWN/ORONO 7: Matt Jolicouer’s power-play goal with 41 seconds left lifted the Purple Panthers (17-1) to a win over the Coyotes (14-2-2) in Waterville.

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Feb 2017 23:23:41 +0000
Girls’ basketball: No. 1 Greely gets past pesky Marshwood Wed, 22 Feb 2017 21:06:01 +0000 It wasn’t the fluid offensive flow the Greely High girls’ basketball team is known for, but the result was the same.

Top-seeded Greely fought through a tough challenge from fourth-seeded Marshwood and a rare average performance from guard Anna DeWolfe to win their Class A South semifinal Wednesday, 46-35 at Cross Insurance Arena.

“It’s tough to shoot in this big arena,” said Greely Coach Todd Flaherty. “Hopefully this was an adjustment game and we can shoot better on Saturday. I think we’re going to have to.”

Greely (19-1) will make its third straight trip to a regional final when it takes on second-seeded Brunswick (17-3) at 6 p.m. Saturday at CIA. Greely beat the Dragons 65-46 in their third game of the season.

The Rangers lost to York in a Class A thriller last season and won the Class B title in 2015.

Greely entered the game averaging 64.9 points, with a low of 54. The Rangers didn’t put the game out of reach until midway through the fourth quarter when they put together a slow 6-0 run.

Brooke Obar led Greely with 13 points. Marshwood (15-5) held DeWolfe to 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting and also kept her from getting loose in the open court. Greely did not have a fast-break point.

“That’s a big part of our game and they were able to take the transition away, but we were able to adjust,” Obar said.

“Fortunately we haven’t had to deal with that all year,” Flaherty said, noting the consistency of DeWolfe. “She did struggle today. They did a nice job on her. I was kind of counting on the fact that the other players could pick her up, and obviously they did.”

Marshwood starts four sophomores and brings freshman Angelina Bisson and sophomore Noelle Barette off the bench for offensive spark.

The Hawks’ youth and a 21-point loss to Greely in the regular season made Marshwood a significant underdog.

The Hawks apparently didn’t get the memo. Despite shooting 24 percent for the game, they trailed only 21-18 at the half and 36-29 with 5:35 to play after an Alicia Richards 3-pointer. Marshwood had a 36-31 rebounding advantage and held the normally efficient Rangers to 28.3 percent shooting.

“The game plan we put out there for them, for a young team, they couldn’t have executed it better,” said Marshwood Coach Steve Freeman.

Marshwood also struggled offensively, making just 12 of 50 shots, with most of the attempts coming from mid- to short-range. Natalie Herbold led the Hawks with eight points.

Greely made six 3-pointers overall and 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter (14 of 17 in the game).

“A couple of our shots fall and a couple of their 3s don’t, and it’s going down to the wire,” Freeman said.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

]]> 0's Courtney Thim guards the lane against a driving Anna DeWolfe of Greely during a Class A South girls' basketball semifinal Wednesday at Cross Insurance Arena. (Staff Photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 18:44:18 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Brunswick tops York in Class A South semifinal Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:54:25 +0000 The Brunswick High girls’ basketball team took an early lead over York, then relied on defense Wednesday to advance to the Class A South final for the first time since 2010.

Madeline Suhr had 19 points, six rebounds and three steals to lead the second-seeded Dragons to a 43-35 victory at Cross Insurance Arena.

Brunswick (17-3) will play top-seeded Greely in the final at 6 p.m. Saturday at CIA.

“Defensively, we really tried to clog up what they do,” said Brunswick Coach Sam Farrell. “I feel like we got them out of their flow.”

Maddie Cogger led the third-seeded Wildcats (13-7) with 12 points.

Brunswick benefited from a height advantage and outrebounded the Wildcats 30-26 – 22-16 on the defensive boards – and blocked eight shots. Suhr had four blocks.

“We just used our length. They were trying to go inside, which is our strength,” Farrell said. “We contested everything.”

After Sabrina Armstrong opened the game with two baskets for Brunswick, Reilly Smedley and Nina Howe answered to make it 4-4. Suhr came back with a layup and a 3-pointer to put the Dragons ahead by five, and they never relinquished the lead.

Brunswick ended the first quarter up 11-8. Aidan Sachs and Suhr each scored four points in the second quarter to keep the Dragons ahead, but Cogger’s 3-pointer at the buzzer cut Brunswick’s lead to 21-19 at halftime.

“That girl is a heck of a player. She hits a good shot – that’s what she does,” Farrell said of Cogger. “We should have picked her up sooner.”

Suhr said the Dragons weren’t rattled by the close halftime score.

“We had a good mentality,” Suhr said. “We knew they had a couple shooters and we just shut them down. That’s pretty much it.”

Brunswick outscored York 10-5 in the third quarter, then held the Wildcats scoreless for the first five minutes of the fourth.

York lost Howe – a freshman guard and one of the Wildcats’ top scorers – to an injury in the first minute of the final quarter. She was carried to the bench, where she remained for the rest of the game, icing her right knee.

“I believe she was going in for the layup, and she sort of twisted sideways and fell on it,” Smedley said. “She grabbed it right away.”

Smedley said Howe’s injury left the team “a little shaken up.

“Nina is definitely a huge part of our offense, and she’s usually in all 32 minutes of the game,” Smedley said. “That was definitely a loss, but other girls stepped up.”

York put up 11 points in the final three minutes – six on Delaney LaBonte 3-pointers. LaBonte, Smedley and Howe all finished with six points for the Wildcats. For the Dragons, Sachs scored 11 points and Armstrong had six.

Brunswick has never won a state title, but Farrell said this team is special.

“They’re just a tight-knit group – probably the most coachable group I’ve had,” Farrell said.

“They don’t react emotionally, they just react mentally as basketball players.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

Twitter: TaylorVortherms

]]> 0 High's Rosalie White, Alexis Guptil, Madeline Suhr, Aidan Sachs and Brooke Barter celebrate their win over York in a Class A South girls' basketball semifinal at Cross Insurance Arena on Wednesday. (Staff photo by Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 19:41:40 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Deering tops EL to reach regional final Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:28:30 +0000 AUGUSTA — With Amanda Brett providing an emotional and physical boost, Deering earned its first trip to a girls’ basketball regional final since 2011 by beating second-seeded Edward Little 46-40 in Tuesday’s Class AA North semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Brett, a senior center, was diagnosed with a fractured left femur Jan. 3. She had not played or practiced for eight weeks, but was cleared to play Monday. Brett scored seven points and was pivotal in the fourth quarter.

“My adrenaline kind of overtook the tiredness that I was feeling and I was just so excited for the girls, how well we did today,” Brett said. “I knew we could do it and I hope to do it Friday and then the following weekend.”

No. 3 Deering (13-7) will play No. 1 Oxford Hills (18-1) at the Augusta Civic Center in Friday’s regional final at 7:05 p.m. Oxford Hills beat fifth-seeded Bangor 69-36.

Tasia Titherington scored nine of her 18 points in the fourth quarter. She made 9 of 11 free throws and Deering was 15 of 19 as a team.

Brett played sparingly in the first half but was on the court for most of the fourth quarter. She stymied Red Eddies center Jordyn Reynolds, who scored just two of her 16 points in the fourth quarter.

Brett secured rebounds at both ends and made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch.

“The rebounding, her foul shooting at the end, we needed that,” Titherington said.

The Rams made seven first-half 3-pointers to take a 25-21 halftime lead and closed the victory making 10 of 13 fourth-quarter free throws.

Delaney Haines had three 3s, Ashleigh Mathisen made two 3s, and Titherington and Sydney Giroux each made one.

Titherington was the only Deering player to score from inside the arc in the first half, with a layup and two free throws.

In the second half, Deering didn’t make a 3-pointer but never trailed.

Edward Little (14-5) tied the game 31-31 on a runner by Piper Norcross with seven minutes to play.

Brett and Titherington responded.

Brett made two free throws. Titherington converted a three-point play. Then Titherington scored inside with an assist from Brett for a 38-31 lead.

“They went to man-to-man and we knew we had to attack the hoop more,” Titherington said.

Two 3-pointers by Grace Fontaine got Edward Little within three points but Titherington and Brett each went 3 for 4 at the line in the final minute to secure the win.

OXFORD HILLS 69, BANGOR 36: The top-seeded Vikings (18-1) raced to a 23-2 lead after one quarter and overpowered the fifth-seeded Rams (9-11) in a Class AA North semifinal.

Julia Colby paced a balanced attack for Oxford Hills with 15 points. Katie Butler scored 10 points for Bangor.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:01 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Gray-NG advances to Class B South semifinals Tue, 21 Feb 2017 22:18:16 +0000 Top-seeded Gray-New Gloucester lived up to its billing while rolling to a 57-24 win against No. 8 Freeport in a Class B South girls’ basketball quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon at the Portland Expo.

The Patriots, the defending regional champions, will play No. 5 Lake Region at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

It was Gray-New Gloucester’s third win of the season over the Falcons. Freeport (12-8) stayed within hailing distance for most of the first half, but an 8-0 run just before halftime enabled the Patriots (18-1) to open a 13-point lead.

“They were a team all year who hadn’t played any zone (defense) and they came out and played zone,” GNG Coach Mike Andreasen said. “It was a high–level zone, where they were allowing us to put the ball in the corner and we obliged (them) early on, so our offense was bad. They threw some wrinkles at us and it had its effect.”

The first quarter ended with the Patriots clinging to a 10-9 lead. But Freeport missed all eight of its field-goal attempts in the second quarter and sank just 2 of 7 free throws.

“We just didn’t finish the shots we needed to finish in the open floor, and free throws hurt us,” said Freeport Coach Michael Hart.

Gray-New Gloucester led 24-11 at halftime, and Freeport had to come out of its zone.

“If you don’t keep pace in a zone, you can’t play (it) from behind,” Hart said. “We felt we had to continue to pull out into the full court and try to make something happen.”

The Patriots ended the third quarter with eight straight points to open a 36-19 lead. They finished the game with a 15-1 run.

Andreasen said the game was much closer than the score indicates.

“This was not a 33-point game,” he said. “It was more like a 10- or 12-point game.”

Nine players scored for the Patriots, with Skye Conley putting in a game-high 10 points.

“It’s so hard to shoot in the Expo,” Andreasen said. “It’s not a shooters’ gym. Both teams were missing shots they normally make, so it got to be a game of putbacks and foul shots.”

Gray-New Gloucester sank 16 of 19 free throws and held a 28-20 edge in rebounding.

Despite the lopsided loss, Hart said the girls on his team learned a lot from their tournament experience.

“Anytime you come out and play and just being here in this environment makes a big difference,” he said. “Some of these kids had never been here and didn’t know what to expect. Now they know.”

]]> 0 Gloucester's Grace Kariotis and Freeport's Taylor Rinaldi and Taylor Dostie, right, watch a loose ball during their Class B South girls' basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at the Portland Expo. (Staff photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:29:31 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Old Orchard Beach holds off Madison Tue, 21 Feb 2017 21:14:48 +0000 AUGUSTA — Despite committing 32 turnovers and being held without a field goal for the final 4:38, Old Orchard Beach found a way to hold on in a Class C South girls’ basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center.

The No. 4 Seagulls made enough free throws down the stretch and played strong defense to take a 45-41 win over No. 5 Madison.

The Seagulls (11-8) will meet top-seeded and undefeated Richmond in the semifinals at 4 p.m. Thursday.

The teams combined for 54 turnovers, with Madison (14-6) giving up the ball 22 times.

“I think both teams play pretty aggressive, pressing, and under these circumstances, it adds to it,” Old Orchard Coach Dean Plante said of the sloppy play. “We knew it was going to be close. We played in the preseason. We have had a pretty friendly rivalry going with Madison for years. They’re a class act.”

The Seagulls led eight points in the third quarter before the Bulldogs cut the deficit to one entering the fourth. Down 40-36 midway through the fourth, Madison tied the game on baseline jumpers from Sydney LeBlanc and Ashley Emery.

With just under 40 seconds left, and OOB leading by two, LeBlanc had a layup go in and out. Samantha Donnell made a free throw and Bri Plante sank a pair of foul shots to ice the win for Old Orchard Beach.

Emily Greenlee paced the Seagulls with 15 points. Plante scored eight of her 11 points in the second half, and Meghan LaPlante added 14 points.

“The girls found a way. Meghan LaPlante was big for us in the first half, and I thought Bri Plante took over the second,” Plante said.

Madison Coach Al Veneziano said the Bulldogs got what they expected from the Seagulls defensively, a tough 2-3 zone and some pressure. Madison just couldn’t make shots consistently.

“Tough defensive game, and we didn’t seem to get the offense flowing. I thought we had some good shots, we just seemed too rough. That happens sometimes in a tournament game,” Veneziano said.

Coach Plante said a focus off OOB’s defensive attention was Madison senior Maddy Wood, who was held to four points, all on foul shots.

“You tell me that before the game, I tell you we win,” Plante said. “I thought we did a nice job of taking Wood out of her game. Our goal was to make other people score.”

Madison knew it had to limit the Seagulls’ perimeter chances, and it did, holding OOB to three 3-pointers. But the Seagulls’ inside game wore down the Bulldogs.

“We knew we couldn’t give 3-point shots up. I was pretty happy with that. They can shoot the 3 and they can bury you out there if that happens,” Veneziano said.

Sydney LeBlanc led Madison with 12 points, while Lauren Hay added nine.

]]> 0 Orchard Beach players celebrate after beating Madison 45-41 in a Class C South girls' basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at the Augusta Civic Center.Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:16 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Top-ranked Gorham cruises past MGA Tue, 21 Feb 2017 20:57:16 +0000 It took a while – maybe a lot longer than anyone anticipated – for top-ranked Gorham to shake off the rust of an 11-day layoff, but once the Rams got going they eased into the Class AA South girls’ basketball final.

Using a tenacious defense to set the tone early, unbeaten Gorham defeated Maine Girls’ Academy 53-23 Tuesday afternoon at Cross Insurance Arena. Mackenzie Holmes, a 6-foot-2 sophomore center, led the defensive effort with 10 blocked shots to go along with 10 rebounds and 14 points.

“You’ve got to make sure if the baskets are hard to come by that you’re making it difficult for the other team as well,” said Gorham Coach Laughn Berthiaume. “And I thought we did that.”

Gorham (19-0) will play second-seeded South Portland at 6 p.m. Friday. The Rams, who have won 40 consecutive games, defeated South Portland 44-31 in the second game of the regular season on Dec. 15. The teams also met in last year’s regional final, won by Gorham, 37-30.

The Rams hadn’t played since Feb. 10 and it showed early, especially on the offensive end, where they hit just 2 of 15 shots in the first quarter.

“I think that’s part of it,” said Gorham senior guard Emily Esposito, who scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half. “It’s two different worlds from practice to the actual game, and then coming into this type of atmosphere, in terms of depth perception and a completely different feel from our home gym.”

Holmes said it took at least a quarter for the Rams to get back into the groove.

“Like anything, when you’re off for that long, not playing at that intense of a level, it’s hard to just jump back into it,” said Holmes. “The first quarter, the first couple of quarters, we were just trying to get back into the flow of things, and once we did it was toward the end of the first half.”

But Gorham’s defense was exemplary throughout the game. The Rams forced 21 turnovers and held the Lions (8-12) to just 16 percent shooting (9 for 55).

MGA had only three baskets in the first half, which ended with Gorham ahead 22-8. That’s because the Rams went on an 8-0 run in the final 55 seconds, getting two baskets by Kaylea Lundin, two foul shots by Esposito and a jumper by Michelle Rowe, who played a strong game with eight points and eight rebounds.

“To shoot 3 for 27 in the first half was tough,” said MGA Coach Bill Goodman. “I’m not upset. The shots didn’t go in, but we kept at it, kept going.

“To get to the semis was pretty awesome. And I told the girls coming back (that) next year starts tomorrow.”

Esposito, who had four rebounds, four assists and three steals, got hot in the third quarter, scoring Gorham’s last nine points to extend the lead to 34-18.

“This is something we’ve been striving for this whole season,” said Holmes. “We really want to be a good defensive team and hold teams to a certain amount of points and push us to get even better.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0's Michelle Rowe drives the lane while being guarded by Hope Olson, left, and Catherine Reid of Maine Girls' Academy's during a Class AA South semifinal Tuesday at Cross Insurance Arena. Top-ranked Gorham won, 53-23.Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:34 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Lake Region defense stifles Yarmouth Tue, 21 Feb 2017 20:36:28 +0000 The Yarmouth girls’ basketball team couldn’t stop Lake Region’s 3-point shooting or ability to get to the free-throw line in a Class B South quarterfinal Tuesday afternoon at the Portland Expo.

The No. 5 Lakers hit five 3-pointers in the first half and made 20 of their 29 foul shots en route to a 45-30 victory over No. 4 Yarmouth. Lake Region will play either top-seeded Gray-New Gloucester in Thursday’s semifinals.

Kristen Huntress led the Lakers (13-6) with 22 points – including two 3-pointers and 12 free throws.

“I haven’t played well when we’ve played Yarmouth, so I kind of set a goal for myself to have a good game against them,” said Huntress, a 5-foot-4 guard. “Without my teammates, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. They were finding me when I was open, and they were letting me hit those open shots.”

Cory Langenbach scored 12 points – all on 3-pointers – for Yarmouth (12-7), which was held to six points in the second and third quarters combined.

“We were really looking to use our post players because they’re a smaller team, and we were hoping to take advantage of that,” Yarmouth Coach Christina Strong said. “But we really could not get into a rhythm.”

Yarmouth swept Lake Region in the regular season by scores of 28-24 (on Dec. 13) and 32-23 (on Feb. 7). This time, Yarmouth grabbed an early 9-2 lead with the help of back-to-back 3s by Langenbach.

“We played them twice during the year, and we shot 16 percent from the floor,” Lake Region Coach Paul True said. “So, really, this was just about execution, making our shots and playing with confidence. I thought our kids did a great job of that tonight.”

Lake Region answered with a six-point run, capped by a Huntress 3-pointer. After an Alison Clark field goal for the Clippers, Lake Region’s Chandler True hit a 3-pointer in the final 20 seconds of the quarter to tie the score at 11-11.

From that point on, Yarmouth’s shots wouldn’t fall. Lake Region outscored Yarmouth 11-4 in the second quarter. All but two of those Lake Region points came from 3-pointers, with Melissa Bonenfant notching two and Huntress sinking one. The Lakers entered halftime up 22-15.

“In first half – after those two shots by Cory (Langenbach) – we went a little cold,” Strong said. “It was a big-time momentum game and I felt like, once it swung, it never came back.”

The second half featured more of the same. The Lakers held Yarmouth to two points in third quarter while Lake Region stretched its lead to 33-17.

“Everything went right,” Huntress said. “We spent so much time working on our game – we were prepared, and we went out and showed it.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

Twitter: TaylorVortherms

]]> 0 High's Sara D'Appolonia looks to pass around Lake Region defenders Kristen Huntress, left, and Chandler True during a Class B South girls' basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at the Portland Expo on Tuesday. Lak (Staff Photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:29:35 +0000
Girls’ basketball: South Portland’s defense too much for Scarborough Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:34:35 +0000 Lynne Hasson has always preached to her South Portland girls’ basketball players that the first few minutes of the third quarter can set the tone for what happens next.

Tuesday afternoon, the second-seeded Red Riots used those minutes to seize control of their Class AA South semifinal and then pulled away for a 43-27 victory over third-seeded Scarborough at Cross Insurance Arena.

The Red Riots forced four consecutive turnovers at the start of the third quarter and converted them into eight points to break open what was a three-point game at halftime. Then South Portland really clamped down, holding Scarborough scoreless in the fourth quarter to pull away for its 13th consecutive victory.

“We talked about that before the game,” said Hasson. “We really believe if we play our best defensive game, we’re tough to beat. And that’s what we did tonight.”

South Portland (17-2) will play top-ranked, undefeated and defending Class AA state champion Gorham in the regional final at 6 p.m. Friday. Gorham defeated the Red Riots 44-31 on Dec. 15.

The Red Storm, who defeated South Portland in the regular season, finished 16-4.

This was a defensive struggle for the most part, with each team working hard to shut down the other.

Scarborough pulled within 17-16 with 31 seconds left in the first half on a Sophie Glidden basket, but Meghan Graff hit a shot just before the halftime buzzer to make it 19-16.

Then, after the break, the Riots forced those four consecutive turnovers, leading to baskets by Eva Mazur (on a nice pass from Graff), Graff (on a nice pass from Mazur), Maggie Whitmore (on an offensive rebound) and Mazur again (on a short jumper).

“We always say coming out of the locker room at the half that the first three minutes of the second half are the most important minutes of the game,” said Graff, who led the Red Riots with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. “And we definitely made that obvious. We took over those first three minutes and it got us the momentum, it got us intensity on defense.”

Scarborough closed to within 32-27 with 1:21 left in the third quarter when Glidden (11 points, 15 rebounds) scored on an offensive rebound. But the Red Storm didn’t score again, missing their last 13 shots.

“They played really, really good defense,” said Scarborough Coach Mike Giordano. “We struggled to get any type of movement on the offensive end.”

The Red Riots forced 25 turnovers and held the Red Storm to 29 percent shooting (12 of 41) – 19 percent (5 of 26) in the second half.

“They just did a really nice job of making anything we wanted to do offensively uncomfortable all night,” said Giordano.

Whitmore added 11 points and six rebounds for the Red Riots, and Bela Cloutier scored seven points, hitting two big 3-pointers.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:04 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Poland upsets Wells in Class B South Tue, 21 Feb 2017 19:00:42 +0000 Poland used a stifling man-to-man defense to pull off a 37-30 upset of No. 2 Wells in a Class B South girls’ basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at the Portland Expo.

The seventh-seeded Knights (12-7) will play No. 6 Lincoln Academy (14-5) at 1 p.m. Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

A switch in Poland’s defensive strategy caught the Warriors off guard.

“We’d seen them several times and we played them two weeks ago,” said Wells Coach Don Abbott, “and everything they put on film is mostly zone, zone, zone, and that’s what we practiced against most of the week. We were a little disjointed at the start.”

The Warriors ended the regular season with a six-game winning streak and recorded a 37-30 road victory over Poland on Feb. 7.

“We typically have played zone (defense) all year because we’re small. We’re tiny,” said Poland Coach Mike Susi. “We felt after the first time we played them we could really get out and pressure them.”

“Last game, we came out in a zone defense, and today we played man and put a lot of pressure on the ball,” said Poland’s Nathalie Theriault, a junior guard. “It was really beneficial. It sparked our offense.”

Poland held a 16-9 lead at the end of a first half that featured hard-nosed defensive performances by both teams.

The Knights hit 6 of 13 shots to build their lead despite making 13 turnovers in the first half. Wells was just 4 for 14 in the half and committed 18 turnovers.

Wells (13-6) climbed back into the game in the third quarter. Megan Schneider scored eight of her 15 points during the quarter and Wells took a 22-21 lead into the fourth.

“We had all the momentum in the world going into the fourth quarter, it looked like,” Abbott said, “and they stifled us a little bit.”

The Knights regained the lead early in the fourth when Sarah Moody hit her third 3-pointer. Moody led Poland with 13 points.

After Schneider sank one free throw, Theriault scored eight straight points and the Knights had a 34-24 lead.

“She got a couple of steals late that led to run outs, a couple of offensive rebounds, and we fed off of that,” Susi said.

Theriault finished with 11 points.

“For most of the girls who are starting and most of the girls who are on the team, this is their third trip (to the tournament),” Susi said, “and I don’t think they wanted to be denied.”

]]> 0, ME - FEBRUARY 21: Poland #10 Alexandria Grondin, center, celebrates with teammates after defeating Poland in the Maine Principals' Association State Basketball Tournament at the Portland Expo. (Staff photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer) Lexy Grondin, 10, leads the cheers as Poland's celebrates its victory over Wells. (Staff photo by Jill Brady/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:30 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Lincoln Academy cruises into semifinals Tue, 21 Feb 2017 16:58:43 +0000 Cagney O’Brien scored 22 points and Gabrielle Wajer added 19 to lead Lincoln Academy to a 60-39 victory over Mountain Valley in a Class B South girls’ basketball quarterfinal Tuesday at the Portland Expo.

“Our defense is what we’ve been working on most because we know we can score,” said O’Brien, a senior captain. “Our speed definitely helped us on our breakaway layups, and we had height underneath. It was a really good team effort.”

The sixth-seeded Eagles (14-5) will play No. 7 Poland, an upset winner over Wells, in a regional semifinal at 1 p.m. Thursday at Cross Insurance Arena.

“Cagney (O’Brien) got the ball in a position she could score, and that made the difference,” said Mountain Valley Coach Ryan Casey, whose team had a 15-game winning streak snapped. “Honestly, the game plan was to make sure Wajer didn’t get into the paint. Sometimes game plans don’t work.”

Emily Laubauskas and Abby Mazza led the Falcons with nine points each. No. 3 Mountain Valley finished at 16-3.

Ashley Russell helped give the Falcons a 6-4 lead halfway through the first quarter after intercepting two Lincoln passes and connecting with Mazza for two baskets. But Wajer sparked the Eagles by scoring seven points to give Lincoln a 13-8 lead by the end of the quarter.

Wajer opened the second quarter with a 3-point play to put the Eagles ahead by eight. Chelsea Allison gave the Falcons some momentum by scoring five points, including a 3-pointer, to cut Lincoln’s lead to 21-17 with four minutes left in the half.

From there, O’Brien led the Eagles’ offense. She scored nine points in the second quarter, helping Lincoln to a 32-27 lead at the half.

Mountain Valley came alive in the third quarter when Laubauskas, Emily Billings and Liza White combined for eight straight points, cutting the Eagles’ lead to 35-34.

But Wajer kicked off a six-point run with a basket and Kaitlyn Feltis scored four points to boost the lead back to seven. O’Brien finished the quarter with a 3-point play that gave Lincoln a 44-36 advantage.

The Eagles outscored Mountain Valley 16-3 in the fourth quarter to pull away and advance to the semifinals for the third consecutive year.

“We knew it was going to be a tough draw,” Casey said. “The biggest different tonight was there best players came out and played really well.”

Taylor Vortherms can be contacted at 791-6417 or:

Twitter: TaylorVortherms

]]> 0 Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:21 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Forest Hills rallies past Pine Tree Academy Tue, 21 Feb 2017 15:41:18 +0000 AUGUSTA — Throughout their Class D South basketball quarterfinal Tuesday morning, the Forest Hills girls played defense with the attitude that anybody but Pine Tree Academy’s Alex Goodman could shoot. In the fourth quarter, that philosophy finally paid off for the Tigers.

Down seven points with 2:22 left in the third quarter, Forest Hills scored the next 18 points, holding the Breakers scoreless until there were just 20 seconds remaining. That defensive effort led to a 42-31 win for the Tigers.

No. 5 Forest Hills (11-8) advances to the semifinals against No. 1 Rangeley (16-3). No. 4 Pine Tree ends the season at 13-6.

In the third quarter, Goodman shook off the Tigers’ tight defense, and seemed determined to beat Forest Hills herself. She scored 10 of her 20 points in the third, and her basket with 2:22 left in the quarter gave the Breakers a 29-22 lead.

Forest Hills captain Caitlin Logston said her team never panicked when Pine Tree went on its run.

“I was just thinking we’ve still got it. We’ve been in games and scenarios where we’ve been down,” said Logston, who scored 25 points. “I just say, ‘Hey, come on. Let’s keep playing.’ We’ve all been doing a great job of staying in sync together. So what if we’re down seven points? We’re going to keep scoring.”

A pair of free throws by Patricia Lessard (15 points) gave Forest Hills the lead for good, 30-29, with 4:07 left. Logston then scored 10 of the Tigers’ final 12 points to cap the comeback. Logston and Lessard did a good job in the low post, scoring 40 of the Tigers’ 42 points and getting to the line.

“We talked about it quite often, it’s going to be a grind it out type of game. We’ve got to get the ball inside and draw fouls,” Forest Hills Coach Anthony Amero said. “We knew the foul count was going to be in our favor. Some of their key players weren’t on the court, so now we’re getting matchups … and we exploited that.”

Madison Cuddy drew the primary defensive assignment on Goodman through three quarters before Amero switched things up and put the smaller, quicker Demi Giroux on the Pine Tree standout. Giroux rewarded Amero with a late steal that all but sealed the win.

“That was the game plan the entire game. We were going to make the other people beat us. It’s kind of a nervous situation, because the Goodman girl is such a good player. She has seen double team, triple team, box-and-one, you name it, she’s seen those defenses the last two years,” Amero said.

Lessard had 10 rebounds, while Logston grabbed nine rebounds and had four steals.

]]> 0, ME- February 21: Forest Hill's Patricia Lessard, left, evades Pine Tree Academy players Stephie Kayumba (4) and Alexandra Goodman during game in Augusta on Tuesday, February 21, 2017. Caitlin Logston (44) is at right. (Staff photo by David Leaming/Staff Photographer)Wed, 22 Feb 2017 14:31:26 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Top-ranked Greely eases past Leavitt in Class A South quarterfinal Tue, 21 Feb 2017 02:06:06 +0000 It took more than a couple of minutes for Greely’s top-seeded girls’ basketball team to settle its nerves in Monday night’s Class A South quarterfinal with Leavitt.

Once the Rangers did, they put on a show.

With Anna DeWolfe scoring 26 points and handing out 10 assists, the Rangers ran away from the eighth-ranked Hornets 75-36 at the Portland Expo. Leavitt held the early advantage, but a 16-0 run by Greely that started late in the first quarter gave the Rangers all the momentum.

“They’re a very, very good basketball team,” said Hornets Coach David Gerrish. “If you look at the facets of the game, they defended well, they caused turnovers, they rebounded well, they passed well and they shot well. That’s all you need, right?”

Greely (18-1) will play fourth-seeded Marshwood in the regional semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Rangers defeated the Hawks 65-44 on Jan. 27.

Leavitt finished 8-12. The Hornets were paced by Elizabeth Goulette with nine points.

The Hornets held leads deep into the first quarter, the last time at 11-9 on an Alexandra Belaire layup. But Greely went on an 11-0 run in the final 1:50, with DeWolfe scoring seven points. Then the Rangers scored the first five points of the second quarter as well – on a three-point play by Moira Train set up by a bullet pass from DeWolfe, and a short jumper by Molly Chapin – en route to a 44-16 halftime lead.

“I think it was the nerves,” said DeWolfe, who also had eight rebounds and four steals. “Everyone just wanted to play really well.

“Once we got the fast break going, once we get the rebounds we push the ball, that’s where it all starts. It starts with our defense.

“Once we pick up energy on the defensive end, it all seems to come naturally on offense.”

Greely forced 26 Leavitt turnovers and held Leavitt to 30 percent shooting. The Rangers also had 21 defensive rebounds, which allowed them to get their fast break going.

They had a balanced offense as freshman Brooke Obar added 17 points, Train nine and Isabel Porter eight.

“We kind of go in spurts,” said Greely Coach Todd Flaherty. “And it all starts with our defense. We get a rebound and we transition really well and we get a lot of easy baskets. If we can get running, we’re in pretty good shape.”

Greely made 52 percent of its shots and also converted 15 of 16 foul shots.

“We have five shooters out there,” said Flaherty. “And they all have their nights.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:15:28 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Marshwood tops Fryeburg in Class A South Tue, 21 Feb 2017 00:50:14 +0000 Knowing his team could use an extra offensive weapon, Marshwood girls’ basketball coach Steve Freeman called up freshman Angelina Bisson to the varsity with three games left in the regular season.

Freeman’s decision paid dividends in Monday’s Class A South quarterfinal. Bisson scored 16 points off the bench and made back-to-back critical baskets in the fourth quarter as the No. 4 Hawks beat fifth-seeded Fryeburg Academy 40-32 at the Portland Expo.

“She’s played four varsity games for us now,” Freeman said of Bisson. “She’s been playing really well for us, and especially with us struggling on offense we needed someone to step up, and she’s not scared for sure.”

Marshwood (15-4) will face top-seeded Greely (18-1) at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in a regional semifinal at Cross Insurance Arena.

Fryeburg (9-10) had just 13 points through three quarters but early in the fourth cut the deficit to 25-21.

“I thought if we could get it to four points or five points the youth on Marshwood would show a little bit and to their credit (it) didn’t,” said Fryeburg Coach Sean Watson.

Bisson broke free for a transition layup against the Raiders’ press and then banked in a 3-pointer high off the glass to push the lead to 30-21 with 3:37 remaining. Fryeburg got no closer than six points the rest of the way.

“I didn’t mean to do that. I didn’t mean to bank it,” Bisson said. “I used to not have courage but now I just feel like if I miss it, shake it off and shoot it again.”

Marshwood started four sophomores and brought two other sophomores off the bench, including Noelle Barette, who scored seven points and snagged a team-high eight rebounds.

Marshwood led 12-10 at the half. Both teams were 4 of 17 from the floor with nine turnovers. Fryeburg missed five of its seven free-throw attempts in the half and shot 10 of 21 for the game.

Marshwood slowly expanded its lead by outscoring Fryeburg 9-3 in the third quarter.

The Raiders’ top scoring threat, Mackenzie Buzzell, scored nine points. Nicole Bennett had eight. Mikayla Cooper and Kaylin Delaney each scored seven points, all in the fourth quarter.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

]]> 0's Courtney Thim is fouled by Fryeburg's Mackenzie Buzzell.Mon, 20 Feb 2017 22:14:32 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Brunswick rolls into Class A South semifinals Mon, 20 Feb 2017 21:58:34 +0000 Sam Farrell said his Brunswick girls’ basketball players believe in their defense.

That was certainly evident Monday afternoon when the second-seeded Dragons defeated No. 7 Kennebunk 57-42 in a Class A South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.

The taller Dragons built a big early lead with defense and rebounding and then held off a second-half Kennebunk rally to advance. The Rams, in the tournament for the first time in 10 years, hit just 26 percent of their shots in the game and were especially cold early, hitting just one of their first 13.

“I thought that was the difference,” said Kennebunk Coach Rob Sullivan. ‘That’s just the difference between a team that’s been here and a team that’s been fighting like heck to get here. The effort was there, we just didn’t execute early.

“We made some nice plays later, but we built too big of a hole.”

Brunswick (16-3) will play third-seeded York in the regional semifinals at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Kennebunk finished 8-11.

Madeline Suhr led Brunswick with 16 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. She felt the difference between this game and the regular-season game – an overtime Brunswick in overtime – was defense.

“We just shut down the shooters,” she said. “We knew who the shooters were and we did it pretty well.”

“We played good help defense,” said Farrell. “You get good ball pressure with good help. … I don’t know if they got a good open look. When five girls move together, and using our length, it’s a good thing.”

Brunswick led 14-4 after one quarter when Suhr hit a 3-pointer from the right wing. In the second, with the Dragons in foul trouble, Rosalie White came in to score eight points – six on offensive rebounds – to help the Dragons take a 33-16 halftime lead.

“The tournament’s all about kids stepping up and making plays,” said Farrell. “And we had enough kids do that.”

Kennebunk finally made a run in the third, pulling within 39-29 with 2:11 left in the quarter on a foul shot by Madi Lux. But Suhr scored on a successive fast breaks to regain Brunswick’s momentum, and when Brooke Barter hit her second 3-pointer of the game to start the fourth, Brunswick was back in control.

Barter and Sabrina Armstrong each scored 10 points for Brunswick. Sierra Tartre led Kennebunk with 14 and Gabby Fogg added 10.

]]> 0 High's Maran Oakman looks to pass through the Brunswick defenders Sabrina Armstrong, center, and Madeline Suhr during a Class A South quarterfinal Monday at the Portland Expo. (Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer)Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:52:25 +0000
Girls’ basketball: York holds on to edge Falmouth in Class A South Mon, 20 Feb 2017 20:09:09 +0000 York High senior guard Maddie Cogger said she never had to make free throws with the game on the line.

“But she sure looked like she has,” said Lily Posternak, the other returning starter from York’s 2016 Class A girls’ basketball championship team.

Cogger hit six straight free throws in the final 24 seconds of the game – each a perfect swish – to finish 12 of 12 at the line as No. 3 York beat No. 6 Falmouth 49-46 in Monday’s Class A South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo.

“She’s who we wanted with the ball and she came through didn’t she?” said York Coach Steve Freeman.

The Wildcats (13-6), who never trailed, will face No. 2 Brunswick (16-3) in Wednesday’s 1 p.m. regional semifinal at the Cross Insurance Arena. Brunswick beat No. 7 Kennebunk, 57-42. York did not play Brunswick in the regular season.

Trailing by 12 with 5:33 to play, Falmouth (7-12) clawed back. Consecutive 3-point baskets by Abby Ryan and Grace Soucy cut York’s lead to 41-37 with 1:26 to play.

From that point it became a free-throw shooting contest. York made 24 of 32 free throws overall and 12 of 16 in the fourth quarter. Falmouth was 15 of 22 (11-of-14 in the fourth).

Falmouth closed to 43-42, with 25 seconds to play, after Adelaide Cooke made one of two free throws. York inbounded to Cogger who was immediately fouled.

Cogger made both. Twice more Cogger made both attempts with York holding a one-point lead, the last two coming with 4.5 seconds to play.

A last-second 3-point attempt by Cooke fell short.

“I’ve never really had to do that. I’ve never been that clutch player so this is kind of a unique situation for me and I felt really confident in myself,” Cogger said.

Cogger finished with 14 points. York freshman guard Nina Howe scored 13, did not commit a turnover and added four rebounds. Posternak scored all eight of her points in the second half.

Hadley Wiggin led Falmouth in scoring with 15 points, 14 in the second half when Falmouth made 53 percent of its shots. Falmouth shot 27 percent in the first half and missed several short shots.

“Had we made a couple of those layups, absolutely the game would have been different,” said Falmouth Coach Dawn Armandi. “They wouldn’t have been up 10 and had all of that momentum.”

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

]]> 0, ME - FEBRUARY 120: Maine High School class A Girls basketball tournament game at the Portland Expo.Cape York vs. Falmouth. York's #3, Lillian Posternak, draws a foul on drive between Famouth defenders Natalie Birkel (right) and Alaina Birkel. (Photo by John Ewing/Staff Photographer)Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:55:15 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Boothbay, Monmouth advance in Class C South Mon, 20 Feb 2017 18:51:35 +0000 AUGUSTA — With its inside tandem of 6-footers Page Brown and Faith Blethen, the Boothbay girls’ basketball team presents matchup problems for pretty much any Class C South opponent.

Mt. Abram tried its best to stay with the Seahawks in a regional quarterfinal Monday at the Augusta Civic Center, but the 10th-seeded Roadrunners were no match for the defending champions, who rolled to a 60-21 victory.

Boothbay (18-1), the No. 2 seed, advanced to play No. 3 Monmouth Academy in the semifinals Thursday. Mt. Abram finished 11-9.

The Seahawks got double-doubles from both Blethen (15 points, 10 rebounds) and Brown (15 points, 12 rebounds) and also received a big game from guard Sydney Meader, who scored 14 points.

Both teams had their struggles in the first quarter, but the trio of Meader, Brown and Blethen awoke in the second quarter, combining for 17 points as the Seahawks outscored the Roadrunners 22-8 to send Boothbay into halftime with a 32-10 lead.

Boothbay stayed hot in the second half. From the middle of the third quarter until the middle of the fourth, the Seahawks went on a 21-0 run.

“We kind of knew they were going to run a triangle-and-two (defense), so we just prepared for that,” Blethen said.

Sophomore guard Summer Ross was the offensive bright spot for Mt. Abram, which beat Hebron Academy 49-42 in the preliminary round. Ross scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers.

Mt. Abram Coach Larry Donald was happy with his team for making it to the quarterfinals.

“Our goal was to get back to Augusta,” Donald said. “They haven’t been here for five years. We got here, we played a team that’s predicted to win it all. … (Boothbay) is a good team, no doubt about it.”

MONMOUTH ACADEMY 45, WAYNFLETE 40: Third-seeded Monmouth found itself in a battle for its tournament life against No. 6 Waynflete at Augusta.

The Mustangs didn’t gain any breathing room until the final 30 seconds, when three players converted single free throws to seal a 45-40 victory.

There were five ties and six lead changes. Abbey Allen, a junior, led the Mustangs (17-3) with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Tia Day added 10 points.

Waynflete senior Annika Brooks led all scorers with 25 points, to go along with nine rebounds.

“They play a lot of (Class) B schools and they beat Falmouth this year, which is a tournament team in (Class) A,” Monmouth Coach Scott Wing said of the Flyers. “They’re a good, solid team and they’re the type of team that gives us a hard time – two big girls and a point guard we couldn’t get to turn the ball over.”

Monmouth took the lead for good early in the second half when Day made two free throws and Hannah Anderson and Emily Grandahl converted layups to make it 36-31. There wasn’t much scoring after that as both teams missed shots and took their time to run some clock. After shooting 10 for 27 in the first half, Monmouth went 4 for 16 in the second half.

“We were trying to be more patient with the ball because they weren’t allowing us to shoot outside much,” Wing said. “We were trying to get the ball inside, which takes more time. And we were horrendous (15 of 28) from the free-throw line.”

The Mustangs took away Lydia Giguere, Waynflete’s leading scorer, holding her to four points, while the Flyers (11-9) held Day in check and allowed her just a couple 3-point attempts, which she missed.

“I know for me, they were trying to take away the 3-point line,” Day said. “When we saw that, we just tried to take it to the hoop and draw some more fouls on them.”

Day opened the fourth quarter with a driving layup in traffic to make it 42-35, but Brooks answered with a bank shot, a free throw and a hook in the lane to make it 42-40.

Allen, Anderson and Day each made one free throw in the final 27 seconds. Giguere was ruled to have fouled Allen intentionally, which gave the Mustangs two shots and the ball.

“I think she was running after her and the girl stopped and she kind of pitched into her,” Waynflete Coach Mike Jeffords said. “The way I saw it, she pitched forward. We certainly coach them to go after the ball.”

Seven players scored for Monmouth in the first half, led by Allen with 12 points. The junior forward moved into the starting lineup early in the season and has performed well since.

“I’ve just stepped it up when I need to,” Allen said. “If other players aren’t making the play, I need to make them.”

]]> 0's Kate Friant, left, defends Mt. Abram guard Lindsay Huff during a Class C South quarterfinal Monday at Augusta Civic Center. Boothbay advanced with a 60-21 victory.Mon, 20 Feb 2017 19:12:55 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Skowhegan rallies past Oceanside Sat, 18 Feb 2017 00:09:16 +0000 AUGUSTA — It looked like the nerves may have been too much. The youngest team in the Class A North girls’ basketball tournament walked into the locker room at halftime of its quarterfinal, faced with the prospect of seeing its playoff journey confined to a quiet, quick exit.

Annie Cooke wasn’t ready to see it end that way. Neither were her Skowhegan teammates.

“We didn’t play too well in the first half. Not as well as we could have,” the sophomore forward said. “And I definitely think that we all thought we just need to pick it up. We need to get ready, we need to talk to each other, we need to be hyped up. And I think we did.”

The scoreboard said as much. Down eight points at the break, the Indians took command with a brilliant third quarter, rallying to defeat Oceanside 50-41 at the Augusta Civic Center.

Cooke and Mariah Dunbar led the second-seeded Indians (15-4) with 13 points apiece, while Cooke added 10 rebounds.

“I think they just finally got their feet wet a little bit and decided they can play, not go down without a fight” Skowhegan Coach Mike LeBlanc said.

No. 10 Oceanside, which got 11 points from Hope Butler, finished its season 8-12.

Skowhegan, which has an all-sophomore starting lineup and only one junior on its roster, found the poise to post perhaps its most impressive quarter of the year after a listless first half in which Oceanside dictated the pace of the game. The Indians made 8 of 11 shots in the third quarter, canning a pair of 3-pointers and turning a daunting deficit into a 41-34 lead.

“I think we were nervous, and I think we thought it was going to be an easier game than it actually was,” Dunbar said. “We picked our heads up a little more, we were more confident in the second half.”

After LeBlanc called a timeout 24 seconds into the second half with Skowhegan trailing 30-22, the Indians rattled off the next 14 points.

“I told the girls you need to shoot, or at least act like you can shoot,” LeBlanc said.

Cooke converted a three-point play after the timeout, and Alyssa Everett (nine points) followed with a pair of free throws. Then Cooke got a steal and Dunbar buried a 3, evening the score at 30. Cooke had a putback for the next basket, giving the Indians their first lead since the first quarter, and Everett stole the ball on the ensuing possession and took it the length of the floor for a 34-30 advantage.

“We definitely came together and played as a team, instead of just as individuals,” Cooke said. “I think we were playing more individually in the first half.”

The effort continued through the rest of the half, and though points were harder to come by in the fourth, Skowhegan made up for it on the defensive end, holding the Mariners to one field goal on 10 attempts.

Oceanside had a chance with 53.9 seconds left, down 48-41, but Sydney Ames (eight rebounds) rebounded a missed 3-point attempt and then another on the next possession to seal the game.

“That’s what we’ve been preaching to them all year,” LeBlanc said. “Our offense is not very good, because I’m not a very good strategic guy. We’ve just got to take care of the tempo, take care of the intensity level, play defense and let the defense take care of our offense.”

When that happens, young as they might be, the Indians always have a shot.

“That gave us a confidence boost,” Dunbar said of the win. “I think now, when we play here, we’re not going to be as nervous. We’re going to be more confident and know we can play our game.”

]]> 0's Annie Cooke, left, battles for a rebound with Alexis Mazurek of Oceanside during a Class A North basketball quarterfinal Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. Skowhegan advanced with a 50-41 victory.Fri, 17 Feb 2017 22:52:53 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Nokomis ousts Camden Hills Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:11:29 +0000 AUGUSTA — The Nokomis girls’ basketball team picked the right time to exact revenge.

Led by Chelsea Crockett’s 21 points and 10 rebounds, the No. 3 Warriors beat No. 6 Camden Hills 55-41 in a Class A North quarterfinal Friday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center.

The Warriors will meet No. 2 Skowhegan in the semifinals at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

It was sweet vengeance for Nokomis (15-4), which dropped a 76-53 decision to the Windjammers (11-8) on Feb. 2 after letting a large lead slip away.

Crockett said the team was confident Friday.

“The first time we played against Camden Hills, we came out with a 26-9 run,” Crockett said. “Then we just fell apart. We knew how to play them, because we came out so well the first time, and we knew we just had to play our game and relax.”

“We’re not a team that can go up and down the floor, we just can’t do it, and we’ve never done that,” Nokomis Coach Michelle Paradis added. “We really need to slow the ball down and keep it to a slow pace. We totally collapsed on defense the last time we played them and we tried to run up and down the floor with them, and that’s not anything that we’ve done all season.”

Nokomis led 14-12 after one quarter, thanks to 3-pointers from Crockett and guard Olivia Moore – who knocked down four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points – though the Warriors had some early turnover woes.

“(Crockett and Moore) have been (hitting shots) all season,” Paradis said. “It’s a big help when you have people who can shoot the ball, and more than one person who can shoot the ball, too.”

Nokomis extended its lead in the second quarter, outscoring the Windjammers 16-7, and went to the locker room with a comfortable 30-19 lead.

Camden Hills refused to go away quietly. Led by Charlotte Messer, who scored 14 points, the Windjammers cut their deficit to eight at the end of the third quarter and got as close as five in the fourth.

Then Crockett and Moore knocked down a pair of 3-pointers in a 20-second span, and the Warriors finished off the Windjammers at the free-throw line, nailing eight free throws.

“We knew that (Camden Hills) was a really good team, so we knew if we wanted to beat them we had to play solid defense and not exchange baskets with them,” Crockett said. “We just had to get a defensive stop, go down and score, get a defensive stop, and just keep going.”

Austin Taylor contributed eight points, and Gabrielle Lord added five points and five rebounds for Nokomis.

Kassandra Krul and Miae DeWaard each scored seven points for Camden Hills.

Nokomis beat Skowhegan 41-34 in a regular-season meeting Jan. 12.

“We still need to work on rebounding (before Wednesday),” Paradis said. “If we don’t make the shot, we don’t have a rebounder in there.”

]]> 0 Lord of Nokomis grabs a rebound in front of Kaylyn Krul of Camden Hills during a Class A North girls' basketball quarterfinal Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. Nokomis won, 55-41.Fri, 17 Feb 2017 22:51:52 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Glidden leads Scarborough past Thornton Academy Fri, 17 Feb 2017 23:10:01 +0000 When the basketball season began, many figured the Scarborough High girls’ basketball team would be good, but no one – including members of the Red Storm – knew just how good.

Now we know.

With junior forward Sophie Glidden leading the way, third-seeded Scarborough turned back No. 6 Thornton Academy 42-38 in a Class AA South quarterfinal at the Portland Expo. Glidden scored 22 points, including the clinching free throws in the final seconds.

That enabled the Red Storm to hold on after the Trojans cut a 10-point deficit to one with 2:17 remaining.

“It’s been that way all year,” Scarborough Coach Mike Giordano said of Glidden. “She’s had a tremendous year. She’s kind of been the kid that gets us going. We rely on her to make the big shots in the big moments.”

Thornton Academy’s Alisha Aube goes to the basket against Scarborough’s Jocelyn F. Couture. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

Scarborough (16-3) will play No. 2 South Portland in the semifinals at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Cross Insurance Arena. The Red Storm defeated South Portland 46-40 on Jan. 3.

Thornton Academy finished 9-10, losing three times to Scarborough.

“This is really exciting for us,” said Glidden. “We knew going into the season that we would be competitive, but we didn’t think we’d be, what, 16-3, at this point. It feels good.

“We have the will to win. We want to win. We want to go out and compete in every game.”

Thornton Academy’s Isabella Robinson and Scarborough’s Brooke Malone try to control a rebound during the fourth quarter. Staff photo y Carl D. Walsh Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

This was a tight one for the most part. Thornton, with its 1-3-1 zone bothering Scarborough, had the early advantage. But the Red Storm hit three 3-pointers – two by Glidden and one by Madison Blanche – at the end of the second quarter to take a 27-20 halftime lead.

When Brooke Malone followed up her own miss for a three-point play with 5:54 remaining, Scarborough led 39-29. But Thornton’s defensive pressure, which forced 14 turnovers in the second half, brought the Trojans came back.

A 3-pointer by Alex Hart (12 points) with 2:17 remaining made it 39-38. After Blanche hit a foul shot with 2:00 left, the Trojans had three chances to tie it but missed each shot.

Glidden rebounded the final miss, was fouled and hit both free throws with 16.7 seconds left to secure the win.

“Just muscle memory,” she said. “I was confident I would make them both.”

The Trojans, who were led by Alisha Aube with 14 points, couldn’t quite complete their comeback.

Scarborough’s Lindsey Kelley and Kaylee Emma embrace in celebration after beating Thornton Academy. Staff photo by Carl D. Walsh

“We kept saying all along that we felt if we could chip away at it and keep it close, we could win it at the end,” said Thornton Coach Eric Marston. “I’m proud of the entire team. The game was a microcosm of our season – a little inconsistent, but when we pulled it together we were pretty good.”

The Red Storm, who play three freshmen regularly, never panicked, even when the Trojans were climbing back into the game.

“You’re going to get those moments and you hope you’re able to play through them,” said Giordano. “And we were able to today. What I told the kids was to stick together. They’re going to have those ebbs and flows in basketball games. Just hang together. And they did that today.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0 players celebrate after their 42-38 win over Thornton Academy in a Class AA South girls' basketball quarterfinal Friday at the Portland Expo.Fri, 17 Feb 2017 20:33:37 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Deering survives Lewiston’s upset bid Fri, 17 Feb 2017 00:10:11 +0000 AUGUSTA — It was only one shot, and it came in the first half. Yet it meant everything to the Deering Rams.

Tasia Titherington swished a 3-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, helping the Rams salvage a terrible second quarter.

Deering then rallied from a six-point halftime deficit to beat Lewiston 51-47 Thursday night in a Class AA girls’ basketball quarterfinal game at the Augusta Civic Center.

“That obviously helped us psychologically,” Deering Coach Mike Murphy said of Titherington’s 3-pointer. “To be down by only six was a blessing.”

Titherington paced the Rams with 17 points. Teammates Delaney Haines and Victoria Garand each added 10. Point guard Abi Ramirez scored eight and directed an offense that was more potent in the second half.

Third-seeded Deering (12-7) moves on to the semifinals Tuesday against No. 2 Edward Little (14-4). Sixth-seeded Lewiston is done at 9-10.

Deering beat Edward Little 54-40 in their one meeting on Dec. 15. The Rams also played Lewiston in December, winning 58-42.

But on Thursday, the Devils were primed for an upset. After trailing 7-0, they crashed the boards and found open looks, opening a 25-16 lead.

Lewiston post player Victoria Harris (19 points) was controlling the middle, while the Devils’ guards hit from outside.

“We didn’t play any defense at all,” Murphy said.

And the offense was not much to boast about.

“At the beginning, we were shooting quick, quick, quick,” Titherington said. “We needed to have more rotation with the ball and get them out of their D.”

That strategy began in the closing seconds of the half. Ramirez worked the ball up and saw Titherington.

“I looked at Abi and she looked at me. I knew I could do it. I believed,” she said.

Deering then began the third quarter with a 9-0 run, taking a lead it would not relinquish.

Haines, who missed time in the second quarter with foul trouble, brought defense and fast breaks, while Garand helped inside.

And as the Rams worked for better shots, they also drew fouls. After taking no free throws in the first half, they were 16 for 17 in the second half, led by Titherington’s 9 for 9.

Still, Lewiston stayed around. Harris hit two free throws to pull the Devils to 45-44 with 1:08 left. Titherington hit two free throws, the Devils traveled, and Ramirez made two foul shots, putting Deering up 49-44.

Harris made a 3-point play, but Titherington iced it with two free throws with 24 seconds left.

]]> 0, 16 Feb 2017 23:23:26 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Bangor holds on to upset Cheverus, 46-44 Thu, 16 Feb 2017 22:54:19 +0000 AUGUSTA — This was not a game the Bangor High girls’ basketball team would have won earlier this winter. The Rams were too young, too inexperienced.

But Thursday, they showed how far they’ve come.

Led by senior forward Katie Butler, fifth-seeded Bangor built a big lead, then held on to defeat fourth-seeded Cheverus 46-44 in a Class AA North quarterfinal at the Augusta Civic Center.

Bangor (9-10) will play top-seeded Oxford Hills at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the semifinals.

Cheverus (11-8) had beaten Bangor by 22 points on Jan. 6.

“We’ve been finally playing some good basketball the last couple weeks of the season,” said Bangor Coach Joe Johnson. “A lot of it is maturity and kids understanding their roles, and feeling comfortable with each other.”

Butler had 20 points, 10 rebounds, three blocked shots and three assists. Her play helped the Rams build a 16-point lead in the third quarter.

As Johnson said, “We needed all of it.”

Cheverus’ Brooke McElman (23) looks to pass the ball as she is defended by Bangor’s Katie Butler. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans

The Stags, behind a ferocious full-court press, forced 16 turnovers in the second half and slowly cut into the deficit, getting within 11 entering the fourth, then within 42-39 with 2:56 left on an Emme Poulin steal and basket.

But Lauren Young of Bangor stepped up to hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game with 2:26 left – off a nice kick-out pass from Megan Connor – to regain the momentum.

“Hard to believe we’ve been begging that kid to shoot all year,” said Johnson.

Abby Cavallaro, who scored 25 points, came back with a 3 for Cheverus, then found Allison Tillotson for a layup with 56 seconds left to pull the Stags within 45-44.

Connor hit one foul shot with 47.2 seconds left – the Rams had missed their previous eight free throws – for a 46-44 lead. Cheverus got the ball back with 12.9 seconds left on a Tillotson steal but could not convert after a timeout.

Tillotson missed a 3-pointer from the left corner – “My heart kind of skipped a beat,” said Butler of the shot – and Cavallaro couldn’t put in the follow.

“That last play was not what we drew up,” said Stags Coach Steve Huntington. “There was some confusion and we didn’t run it properly.”

Cheverus, which relies on 3-point shooting, never got into an offensive rhythm, especially in the first half when it fell behind 29-13.

“We only played 16 minutes instead of 32,” said Huntington. “That’s what it came down to.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

]]> 0, 16 Feb 2017 19:08:23 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Maine Girls’ Academy stops Sanford Thu, 16 Feb 2017 22:48:22 +0000 They may not have the same name or the same firepower of recent years, but the Maine Girls’ Academy basketball team can still get after it on defense.

The Lions, who won four straight Class A state titles from 2011-14 when they were known as McAuley, used hustling defense and scrappy rebounding against a taller Sanford team Thursday to win a Class AA South quarterfinal 40-33 at the Portland Expo.

“My girls executed the defensive game plan for (the full) 32 minutes,” said Lions Coach Bill Goodman.

No. 4 MGA (8-11) will face No. 1 and defending state champion Gorham (18-0) at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Cross Insurance Arena. Gorham has won 39 consecutive games, including a 70-42 home win against MGA on Jan. 13.

Fifth-seeded Sanford (9-10) has three players in the 6-foot range but scored only six second-chance points because MGA players like 5-foot-6 Maddy Beaulieu (6 rebounds, 4 points) held their own on the boards.

“Coach likes to remind me all the time how tiny I am in there, but I like to get in there and battle and just get rebounds. I know our team needs it,” Beaulieu said.

With both inexperienced teams displaying playoff nerves early, it took more than four minutes for either team to score.

MGA led 11-4 after one quarter.

Sanford slowly clawed back to make it 18-18 with 4:40 to play in the third quarter. MGA closed the quarter on a 9-0 run and pushed its lead to 31-20 early in the fourth quarter.

Summer Camire scored all nine of her points in the fourth quarter as Sanford was able to get within a possession, 31-28, on a basket by Paige Cote with 2:31 left.

Jill Joyce came through with the game’s biggest basket when she converted an offensive rebound as she was fouled and made the ensuing free throw to stop Sanford’s momentum.

“The shot went up and I thought, ‘I need to jump up and get it,’ ” and I put it right back in,” Joyce said. “All of us work hard and we all do our part.”

“We got it to three and then we made the mental mistake on the box-out,” said Sanford Coach Kristy Parent.

Catherine Reid, who led MGA in scoring with 10 points, made 5 of 6 free throws down the stretch to secure the win. Serena Mower (9 points) and Hope Olson (7 points) also contributed to the Lions’ offense.

Steve Craig can be reached at 791-6413 or:

Twitter: SteveCCraig

]]> 0's Julia Cyr looks for a teammate to pass to as Maine Girls' Academy defenders Madeline Beaulieu, left and Serena Mower move in during Thursday's Class AA South quarterfinal. (Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer)Thu, 16 Feb 2017 20:09:49 +0000
Girls’ basketball: Oceanside knocks off Waterville 48-39 Wed, 15 Feb 2017 02:43:08 +0000 WATERVILLE — After losing to Waterville twice in the regular season, Oceanside pulled away in the fourth quarter Tuesday night, taking a 48-39 Class A North girls’ basketball preliminary-round win.

No. 10 Oceanside (8-11) will face No. 2 Skowhegan (14-4) in the Class A North quarterfinals at 4:30 p.m. Friday at the Augusta Civic Center. No. 7 Waterville ends the season at 9-10.

Oceanside Coach Samantha Bragg said she saw better intensity from her team in a loss to Gardiner in the regular-season finale, and that carried over into Tuesday’s game.

“Even though we lost to Gardiner, the intensity I’ve been trying to find all season has finally shown up. And it couldn’t have happened at a better time, for sure,” Bragg said. “They kind of know now, we win or we don’t play anymore.”

The Mariners lost to the Purple Panthers last season in the Class A North preliminary round, and many of the Mariners were members of the Oceanside soccer team that lost to Waterville in regional semifinals. Those games, combined with Waterville’s two wins over Oceanside in the regular season, had the Mariners wondering what they had to do to beat the Panthers.

“Waterville’s kind of in the back of your head the whole time. It was nice to make it here and get the color purple out of the way,” Oceanside junior Gabby Simmons said.

The Mariners played play excellent defense, forcing Waterville to settle for perimeter shots throughout the game.

“Once we didn’t see the first couple shots go down, we started to panic,” Waterville Coach Rob Rodrigue said. “The first two nights we hit shots. Tonight, we didn’t hit shots.”

Oceanside scored the first seven points, and after Simmons made a 3-pointer to give the Mariners a 7-0 lead two minutes into the game, Rodrigue called timeout. Waterville settled down and scored the next 11 points, but the quick start gave the Mariners confidence, which they carried through the rest of the game.

“Just coming into Waterville, we were really timid, not really sure what our purpose here was,” said Simmons, who scored a team-high 16 points. “I think moving the ball around, really being confident in our teammates kind of helped. Intensity at the beginning of the game helped.”

The Mariners led 22-19 at the half, and Waterville tied the game 26-26 on Sadie Garland’s basket with 2:52 left in the third quarter. Oceanside closed the quarter with a 6-0 run to take a 32-26 lead in the fourth. Waterville got no closer than four points the rest of the game. Hope Butler’s basket with 4:18 to play pushed Oceanside’s lead to 40-30, the largest of the game.

With Elise Laslavic in foul trouble early, Sara Dorr came off the bench and grabbed nine boards for the Mariners. Alexis Mazurek added eight points for Oceanside.

Playing her final high school game, Waterville’s 1,000-point scorer Jordan Jabar scored 19 points and had 12 rebounds. Maddy Martin added nine points for the Panthers.

“I like my group. They fight right to the end,” Rodrigue said.

]]> 0 players celebrate their impending victory over Waterville as Gabby Simmons sinks both free throws in the final seconds of Tuesday night's Class A North girls' basketball prelim at Waterville.Tue, 14 Feb 2017 23:02:57 +0000