Steve Freeman, the Marshwood High girls’ basketball coach, was nervous entering the third-ranked Hawks’ Class A South quarterfinal Monday against No. 6 Lincoln Academy,

“I didn’t like the 3-6 matchup,” he said of the seedings. “It happened to me 20 years ago or so (when he was the girls’ coach at Traip Academy). We were the three seed and we lost to a six seed by about 24 points. I hadn’t seen a lot of them. So I was nervous.”

His players sure weren’t. The Hawks came out fast and never slowed, running away from the Eagles 74-24 at the Portland Expo.

Marshwood forward Grace Verrill and Lincoln Academy guard Joy Hedrick wrestle on the floor for the ball.

Marshwood scored the first four points, then quickly pulled away. The Hawks had a 10-point lead in the first four minutes, led by 21 after one quarter and 32 at halftime.

“We talked about jumping on them early, talked about forcing the pace,” said Freeman. “I don’t think they wanted to run with us and I think that turned out to be true.”

Marshwood (18-1) will play second-seeded Greely at 10 a.m. Wednesday in the semifinals at Cross Insurance Arena. The teams didn’t meet in the regular season but Greely defeated the Hawks 46-35 in the semifinals a year ago.

Natalie Herbold led Marshwood with 14 points and Miranda Montgomery had 10. They combined for 15 in the first quarter, which ended with Marshwood ahead, 25-4.

“That’s what we talked about all week, getting ahead early, playing hard and putting them out of the game,” said Herbold.

Marshwood forward Miranda Montgomery passes beneath the basket, as Lincoln Academy’s Kaitlin Feltis guards from behind.

As impressive as the Hawks were offensively, their defense was exceptional. Marshwood forced 35 turnovers, 13 in the opening quarter.

“Our defense did a great job,” said Montgomery. “We talked through the screens and made sure everyone was covered.”

Lincoln Coach Kevin Feltis knew what to expect. The teams scrimmaged in the preseason and he followed the Hawks all season.

“They’re aggressive, super athletic with plenty of speed,” said Feltis. “We struggled to get the ball into the post. They overplayed it well and we didn’t do a good job taking care of the basketball.”

Marshwood also showed plenty of depth as well. Fourteen players scored and the pace never slowed. “Everyone came in and contributed,” said Herbold. “Which was cool.”

Lincoln Academy guard Madison York passes the ball while guarded by Marshwood’s Grace Verrill.

Nathalie Clavett scored eight for the Hawks. Kara Anderson and Jordyn Beers each had seven.

“Typical Marshwood box score,” said Freeman. “We usually spread it out.”

Lincoln Academy was hampered by early foul trouble but simply couldn’t handle Marshwood’s full-court pressure. Time and again the Hawks got easy transition baskets off turnovers.

It was 8-3 when Marshwood went on 17-1 run to close the first. Herbold began it when she stole the ball at midcourt, went in for a scoop layup from the left, drew the foul and hit the free throw. Angelina Bisson hit two 3-pointers in the run and the Hawks were never challenged.

“We wanted to jump on them early,” said Freeman. “The girls executed our game plan as well as you could ask.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH