The game plan Friday night for Maine Girls’ Academy was to shut down Cheverus stars Emme Poulin and Abby Cavallaro. And the Lions did just that, limiting them to a combined 13 points.

Instead, it was Meg Kelly who did in the home team in the Stags’ 43-23 girls’ basketball victory.

Kelly, a junior forward, scored 16 points, including seven in the pivotal third quarter when Cheverus extended its five-point halftime lead to 16.

“When Abby and Emme have (the other team’s) best defenders on them and face guarding them at times, it leaves me open for my opportunities,” said Kelly.

“We had all of our options we could possibly use tonight. Once they collapsed on me, it opened Abby and Emme or our two posts for opportunities.”

Both teams went into the game ranked fourth in Class AA Heal points – Cheverus (10-6) in the North and MGA (12-3) in the South. The No. 3 and 4 teams in each region will host first-round playoff games.

“We’ve kind of been on a losing streak and we have good teams coming up, so in order for us to get more Heal points we needed to get this win,” Kelly added. “So this was a good win.”

Cheverus’ Lauren Jordan maneuvers around Maine Girls’ Academy’s Jill Joyce in Friday’s game at Portland. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Despite going through a 6:43 scoring drought spanning the first and second quarters, Cheverus still enjoyed a 16-11 lead at halftime.

An 8-0 spurt in just over a minute and half – an inside basket by Kelly, a short baseline jumper by Michaela Jordan, a foul-line jumper by Cavallaro and a fast-break layup by Jordan off a Cavallaro pass – pushed the lead to 24-11 early in the third quarter.

Kelly capped the third quarter with a one of her four 3-pointers, giving Cheverus a 35-19 advantage.

The lead wouldn’t dip below double digits the rest of the way.

“We played with some intensity and we showed the effort we are capable of playing (with),” said Cheverus Coach Gary Fifield, whose team only had four turnovers in the second half after committing nine in the first half. “We came out and we did what I know we have the potential to do.

“We came out and took it to them (in the third), and that is what we needed to do. (The 8-0 run) opened things up, which was very important because it gave us a little separation from them. And once you get a little separation, all of a sudden the hoop for them looks a little smaller and the hoop for us looks a lot bigger.”

Maine Girls’ Academy’s Catherine Reid tries to get past Emme Poulin of Cheverus. Cheverus won, 43-23. Staff photo by Ben McCanna

Poulin finished with seven points and Cavallaro had six. Jordan chipped in with five, along with a game-high 10 rebounds.

MGA’s outside shooting was cold, with zero 3-pointers, and its inside game a little off.

And after opening the season 9-0, the Lions have gone 3-3.

“I thought we played amazing defense in first half,” said MGA Coach Bill Goodman. “But nothing was going in offensively. We’ve been like this for three weeks. We practice shooting, we practice a lot of things, but you wouldn’t even know it.

“We are struggling very badly. It’s on me, so I have to figure it out. I have girls who try very hard, and that is all I can ask for.”

MGA was held scoreless for 9:50 after it opened the game with the first two baskets.

“We’ve worked hard in practice to get our defense together,” Kelly said. “We can all play defense, and it’s just about coming together and playing. And tonight we came together.”

Elizabeth Fitzpatrick and Catherine Reid scored six points apiece to lead the Lions.