March 3, 2013

Tournament Notebook: McAuley's ability to adjust a big key to its latest crown

From staff reports

The McAuley girls' basketball team is more than its collection of talent, junior guard Allie Clement said after the Lions won their third straight Class A state championship Saturday, beating Bangor 60-45 at the Augusta Civic Center.

"I think people think that we just walk in and we know everything about every team or it doesn't matter because we're just so good, but we work for everything," Clement said. "We make little adjustments. We plan ahead for teams. We know what we want and we're willing to do what we need to do."

The adjustments were critical. Bangor's senior guard Denae Johnson is one of the top hurdlers in Maine, and her quickness required a reworking of McAuley's defense. Johnson had five points in the first quarter but was scoreless the rest of the way.

"We knew she was fast but we weren't face-guarding her to start. Once we adjusted and started face-guarding her and keeping her from getting the ball, we did better," Clement said.

Jordan Seekins hit two 3-pointers in the second quarter. Again, an adjustment was made. McAuley got out on Seekins and limited her touches, and she didn't score again.

"Just little things like that make a difference," Clement said.

"I love my team's ability to adjust and slowly get into the groove, and we did that tonight," McAuley Coach Bill Goodman said.

MCAULEY WENT 22-0 for the second straight season after winning its four tournament games on the way to the state title the previous season. Goodman said there is no talk about the team's 48-game winning streak. Instead, the focus is on getting better each day in practice.

"I give my coaching staff a lot of credit. We push the girls every day. They want to get better and I think that keeps them from getting distracted," Goodman said.

WITH BANGOR returning top scorers and sophomores Cordelia Stewart and Mary Butler and McAuley losing only Molly Mack among its regular rotation, could there be a rematch next year? That's a long way off, but Bangor Coach Katie Herbine noted that her team will learn from its first trip to the state final since 1983.

"This is certainly a new place in terms of basketball for these kids. Next year, hopefully, if we make it back it's just that much easier because it's familiar," Herbine said.

One area where Bangor will need improvement is its ability to establish position in the rebounding wars, Herbine said. Victoria Lux had 19 rebounds for McAuley, Olivia Smith had 10, and the rest of the Lions limited Bangor to scant few second-chance opportunities.

"They are a much more physical team than we are and not in a bad way," Herbine said. "I mean in the kind of the pushing and shoving of good, physical girls' basketball. I don't think we were quite ready for that, so that certainly hurt us."

CINDY BLODGETT, the former UMaine women's coach who is now an assistant at Rhode Island, watched the McAuley-Bangor game from press row. Blodgett had to be impressed with McAuley's Smith, who scored 20 points on some impressive moves. Smith showed she's a Division I prospect, and she still has another season to go.

Jack Cosgrove, UMaine's football coach, was part of the large Bangor cheering section. Cosgrove's daughter, Carly, is a top reserve for the Rams.

AMONG THOSE in an attendance for the Hampden Academy-South Portland Class A boys' final was former Bangor Coach Roger Reed, who now serves in the state Legislature. Reed retired from coaching after last season. He coached Bangor to eight Class A state titles, though he was on the losing end of an epic five overtime game against South Portland in 1992 at the Cumberland County Civic Center. The star of that South Portland team, John Wassenburgh, was also at the game.

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