PORTLAND — After becoming the first team from Wells High School to play on the floor at the Cumberland County Civic Center a year ago, there was no “just happy to be here vibe” for the Warriors’ girls team this season.

Just ask Spruce Mountain, who could do little on either end of the floor to stop Wells on Thursday as Alison Furness dominated while scoring a game-high 21 points and the third-seeded Warriors used a suffocating defense to run up a 19-point halftime lead and cruise to a 55-31 victory over the second-seeded Phoenix in a Western Class B semifinal at the CCCC.

Wells (18-2) will play top-seeded Lake Region, which beat No. 4 Greely 43-32 in the day’s other semifinal, in the regional final at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Civic Center.

“It was just determination,” Furness said. “We were really excited, really determined and ready to play here. “We were ready for a battle and all of our energy was immediately out on the floor.”

The Warriors had been a surprise visitor to the semifinals a year ago, when they led for most of the game before falling to rival York 40-38. Every Wells player who took part in that game was back for another go 364 days later, and left nothing to chance this time.

“We came here with one goal, and that’s to make Western Maines and go to states,” forward Sophie Lamb said. “We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep energized and keep going.”

It was the second consecutive year the Phoenix (19-1) ”“ who play a regular-season schedule against mostly Class C opponents in the Mountain Valley Conference ”“ had gone into a playoff matchup with Wells undefeated.

Spruce beat Wells by two points when the teams met during the preseason, but had no answer on either end of the floor Thursday.

“I’d said from early in the year I thought that was a group that could win it all,” Phoenix coach Gavin Kane said. “They really have all the pieces to the puzzle.

“Defensively we threw pretty much everything and the kitchen sink at them and they handled it all.”

Leading 21-13 midway through the second quarter, Wells went on an 11-0 run to end the half using its three main weapons of the day ”“ quick cuts, turnovers and the 3-pointer.

The run started with a 3 from Meghan Young, and continued as forward Jordan Agger twice found Furness cutting through the lane ”“ once through the middle and once through the back door ”“ for easy baskets.

Nicole Moody continued the run with a free throw after she stole the ball at halfcourt and was hacked going to the hoop, and Stephanie Woods hit another 3 just before the buzzer to give the Warriors a commanding 32-13 halftime lead.

“We shot it well,” Wells coach Don Abbott said. “As a team that likes to spread teams out and get to the free throw line, if we can shoot the 3-pointer like that it makes it a little bit different with what we can do.”

After holding Spruce to 13 points in the first half, Wells turned up the defensive pressure even more in the third, utilizing relentless ball pressure to hold the Phoenix to just two points in the quarter as the Warriors took a 50-15 lead after three before pulling their starters for the entirety of the fourth.

“We killed them on our defense tonight,” Lamb said. “Our defense was awesome.”

“We really stayed on our feet and moved a lot,” Furness added of the defensive effort. “When we’re all in sync it really works out really well. That happened tonight.”

Furness, Lamb and Agger were key in Wells’ 2-3 matchup zone, continually frustrating Spruce’s attempts to get the ball inside as Phoenix post players Emily Keene and Samantha Richards scored four and zero points, respectively.

“I was concerned with their inside post presence and we’d talked a lot about how we wanted to handle Richards and Keene inside. I think between the three of them, Agger and Furness and Lamb bumping cutters and taking them off their path, it seemed like we were able to take them out of their normal flow of what they like to do.”

Wells forced 26 Spruce turnovers in all, including seven in each of the first three quarters, with many of them leading to easy points in transition the other way.

 “You can’t be tentative against a group like that, and I thought we were,” said Kane, whose team’s previous season-low in points was 45. “They took full advantage.”

Next up for the Warriors are the top-seeded Lakers (19-1), who were dealt their only loss of the season when they visited Wells back on Dec. 18.

Wells will be looking to reach just its second-ever state championship game, while the Lakers are the two-time defending regional champion and feature one of the most dominating presences in the state in 6-foot-2-inch center Tiana-Jo Carter, who was in foul trouble for most of that first game.

“I think that puts an automatic target on our back because they’re going to want to be avenging their only loss,” Abbott said. “It will certainly be a challenge.”

Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]

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