Deering High Coach Mike Murphy has a simple explanation for the large surge this season by his girls’ basketball team: “It’s a second life.”

The Rams, who suffered through a 12-game losing streak in the regular season, will be playing for a regional championship.

Behind 17 points from senior guard Delaney Haines and an absolutely confounding 2-3 zone defense, seventh-seeded Deering upended No. 3 Bangor, 34-17, in the Class AA North semifinals Wednesday at Cross Insurance Arena.

Haines, who missed seven games with a broken right wrist, was in the middle of everything. In addition to leading Deering in scoring, she was the main ballhander when the Rams looked to hold the lead by dribbling as much time off the clock as possible.

“It’s been rough the whole season,” said Haines. “But I think now that we’re all together, the chemistry is there.”

Deering (6-14) will play the Portland-Oxford Hills winner in the regional championship game at 2 p.m. Friday at CIA. Bangor, which defeated Deering 49-38 on Jan. 12, finished 12-8.

Murphy said Haines’ return has certainly made a difference in Deering’s confidence.

“Delaney’s an all-state player,” he said. “When you lose a kid like that it affects all parts of the game. We didn’t score a lot of points tonight but it’s about being confident. … Great effort on both sides of the ball.”

Victoria Garand gave Deering the lead 24 seconds into the game and the Rams never trailed. It was 14-6 after one quarter, with Haines scoring seven points, and 18-9 at the half.

Bangor went through two long scoring droughts. The first was for seven minutes, spilling over from the first to second quarters. The second was even longer, a span of 11 minutes, 21 seconds between the third and fourth quarters. Bangor didn’t score in the fourth until just 44.7 seconds remained, on a foul shot by Maggie Cowperthwaite. By then, Deering’s 23-16 lead expanded to 34-16.

Bangor coach Joe Johnson said Deering’s conservative offense – trying to run down the clock – was a factor, as was its zone.

“When we got the ball it was hard to get into an offensive flow,” he said. “And that zone was effective in that it made us a little more standstill, or we didn’t have as good of a movement as we’ve had and we can have. So when we got an open shot, we were a little hurried or weren’t the most balanced when we took them.”

Deering’s Mandy Mastropasqua, who hit two huge shots in the third period, said the defense came down to “getting out on their shooters and blocking the middle up.”

And now the Rams are one win away from playing for a state title.

“I always knew we could do it,” said Mastropasqua. “We just had a rough season.”

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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