BANGOR — The Waterville girls’ basketball team won the opening tip, as it often does, but instead of a layup and a quick lead, the Purple Panthers turned the ball over.

The Class B North final was that kind of game for Waterville. Just when something appeared to be going right, it quickly veered wrong.

Mt. Desert Island withstood Waterville’s defensive pressure while playing strong defense of its own, taking a 44-35 win Saturday afternoon at Cross Insurance Center. No. 1 MDI (19-2) will face Gray-New Gloucester next Saturday in the state final at Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena.

Waterville, the No. 3 seed, ends the season at 20-1.

Waterville’s Sadie Garling scored 18 points in a semifinal win over Hermon and 19 in a quarterfinal victory over John Bapst. The Trojans held her to just a 3-pointer in the second quarter. Jayda Murray had seven points against Hermon and 12 against John Bapst, but was scoreless against MDI before fouling out with 5:39 left.

“We knew we were going to have to close out on them fast, so our defense was going to have to be quick. We were going to have to communicate the whole time, and I think we did a very good job stepping up on that,” said MDI’s Julia Watras, who scored 17 points.

“I think they did a good job of identifying where Sadie was in the zone,” Waterville Coach Rob Rod-rigue said. “That’s a big part of it. We didn’t make as many shots as we typically do. A lot of times when we’ve faced zone, we’ve been able to hit outside shots.

“The thing I was most impressed with was their ability to handle our pressure.”

While Waterville’s full-court pressure helped force 25 turnovers, the Panthers were unable to convert those turnovers into transition points. After turning the ball over 15 times in the first half, the Trojans limited their turnovers in the second half and expanded a five-point halftime lead to 35-22 late in the third quarter on a Watras basket.

Foul trouble was a factor for Waterville. Along with Murray, Paige St. Pierre was in foul trouble in the second half. St. Pierre fouled out with 2:29 to play, finishing with four points and seven rebounds.

With Murray and St. Pierre in foul trouble, Waterville was forced to play long stretches without its starting guard.

“We didn’t have a guard on the floor for half the game. They’re our two perimeter ball handlers. We talk about our transition game, they fuel a lot of that,” Rodrigue said.

Kali Thompson came off the bench to score 12 points and grab 10 rebounds for Waterville.


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