On their last home game of the regular season Monday night, the Westbrook Lady Blazes took a 30-30 tie with the Gorham Lady Rams into the fourth quarter and exploded for 14 points to come away with a 44-34 victory.

Senior forward Cynthia Wescott had 16 points and seven rebounds to lead the offense of the Lady Blazes. Junior Erin Murphy had 11 points, five rebounds and five steals, senior Audrey Shutts had eight points and nine rebounds, and senior Maria Romano pitched in with five points and five assists.

For Gorham, senior guard Lindsay Hansen scored eight points and had six rebounds, freshmen Natalie Egbert had seven points with two assists, and sophomore forward Jill Russell had six points and six rebounds.

“That Gorham team has completely changed. They lost the best player in the state (junior Rachele Burns), and they floundered for three or four weeks, but I give all the credit to those Gorham kids and the coaching staff for doing an outstanding job with that team,” said Westbrook head coach Mike Murphy. “They’ve done a nice job in a tough situation, and they had us, for the first 16 minutes, on our heels. In the second half, the kids did a better job of attacking, and I think that was the difference. Second half, we played like we were capable of playing. The kids played great on the offensive end, and were tremendous on the defensive end.”

Gorham took a 20-13 lead at the end of the first half on two key three-point shots from Russell, one midway through the second quarter, and the other on the last shot of the half.

“It’s getting comfortable being able to take those shots. I like for them to take them in practice, (Russell’s) working on it and getting better at it, and I think she knows that she’s not going to get yanked out if she takes a bad shot,” said Gorham head coach Laughn Berthiaume. “We’ll talk about good shot vs. bad shot, but for the most part I have to let the reins loose on our offense a little bit so that she could have the opportunity to score.”

The Lady Blazes had to score the final six points of the third quarter in order to force a 30-30 tie going into the fourth. From there, Wescott and Murphy combined for 10 of the 14 points the Blazes scored in the fourth in order to earn the win over the Rams.

Murphy sparked the fourth quarter surge with a breakaway steal and layup, and followed with another steal and layup only seconds later. From there, the Blazes held the Rams to only four points in the fourth quarter, dominating on both offense and defense in the final eight minutes.

The Rams have had a season decimated by injuries, and as a result, started only two seniors against the Blazes. After a knee injury to Burns, freshman Natalie Egbert was thrust into the mix, along with Russell and Kayleigh Ballantyne, both sophomores.

“When (Burns) went down, (Egbert) got thrown in the fire right away, and she’s been our starting point guard ever since,” said Berthiaume. “There are moments when things go very well, and there are moments when you realize she doesn’t have that experience, but she’s gaining that for next year. (Burns) will be back, and all these young girls will be ready to go next year, for sure.”

For the seniors on the Blazes, Katie MacDonald, Shutts, Maria Romano, and Wescott, Monday’s game was their final regular season home game before the playoffs, and not only did they earn a victory, the game represented a dramatic turnaround the senior Blazes have been the core of for the last few seasons.

“They were freshmen on a team that went 1-17. So, they’ve stuck with it, and we’re 12-6 now. It’s been a great turnaround for great kids. The kids who stayed with it, I’m proud of them, I’m happy for them, because when you’re only winning one game or five games in a season, it’s easy to say ‘The heck with this, I’m out of here.’ They’ve stayed with it, and I’m extremely proud of them,” said coach Murphy.

“Katie MacDonald, you don’t get a better kid than that. She was the fourth starter tonight, tremendous kid, works hard in practice, and has a great attitude. All four seniors have tremendous attitudes. (MacDonald) doesn’t get a lot of playing time, but trust me, she’s much appreciated by the whole coaching staff. She went away her freshman year, came back, and we’re happy to have her. She’s battled knee injuries, and she’s really had a great year for us. She does not cheat anybody in practice. Romano’s the same way. Again, not a lot of points from those kids, but they are valuable in what they do,” continued coach Murphy.

The win moves the Blazes to 12-6, and are preparing for a run in the playoffs. For the Gorham Rams, the loss drops them to 6-11.

“Our last game is on Wednesday, and it’s the senior night against Sanford, and then we are going to qualify for the tournament,” said Berthiaume. “We’re in as of right now; it’s just a matter of where we’ll fall. There’s still a lot of jockeying in the last couple games for those last six spots, so we’ll see where we end up.”

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