Mt. Ararat junior guard Eliza Libby (15) stretches out to knock the ball away from Fryeburg Academy’s Kayrin Johnson (13) in a girls Class A South preliminary game at Topsham on Wednesday. The eighth-seeded Eagles downed the No. 9 Raiders, 58-45. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

TOPSHAM — Mt. Ararat High School sophomore forward Elsa Daulerio usually stands above most of the competition on the basketball court.

The 6-foot-plus tall daughter of Bowdoin College women’s basketball head coach Adrienne Shibles typically goes about her business quietly, battling under the basket amongst the arms and elbows of talented players throughout Class A South.

On Wednesday in her team’s preliminary matchup with ninth-seeded Fryeburg Academy, Daulerio let her actions speak loudly, controlling the paint and leading the Eagles to a 58-45 victory.

The win sends No. 8 Mt. Ararat (9-10) to the quarterfinals at the Portland Expo for the second straight season, where the Eagles will take on two-time defending State Class A champion and top-seeded Greely on Monday at 8:30 p.m.

Daulerio led all scorers with a career-high 18 points, pulled down 10 rebounds, blocked four shots and had two steals. She was strongest in the fourth quarter, where she tore off nine points after the Raiders had cut a nine-point halftime deficit down to three points, 44-41, early in the fourth quarter. She scored inside three times during a clinching 12-0 run, ending any hopes for the shorthanded Fryeburg Academy squad, which came to town with just eight players.

Mt. Ararat’s Reese Turcotte (3) looks for someone to pass to while being pressured by Fryeburg Academy’s Sierra Lyman during Wednesday’s girls Class A South preliminary basketball game at Topsham. The host Eagles prevailed, 58-45. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

“I wanted them to go out and play without any regrets,” said first-year Mt. Ararat coach Julie Petrie. “Luckily we hit several open shots. Their press was funky for us, and we went up-tempo defensively, which worked for us. The game was slow at times, and we like to go fast. We talked about executing our offensive sets once we broke their press. We forced some things, then settled in and worked our offense. In a big game, you want to take those high-percentage shots.”

The Raiders came to town with just three wins. Playing out of the tough Western Maine Conference,

Mt. Ararat’s Morgan Ruff (2) and Reese Turcotte battle with Fryeburg’s Camden Jones during the first half of Wednesday’s prelim game in Topsham. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

the visitors stayed within shouting distance for three-plus quarters thanks to eight 3-pointers.

“I am so proud. We had a team of 11, but we have had so many injuries. So for the girls to come out and put on a show like that, I am really proud,” said Fryeburg co-coach Sarah Campney. “We had a good talk in the locker room, and they came out and executed.”

After a sloppy second quarter that saw the teams combine for 17 turnovers, Mt. Ararat and Fryeburg Academy lit up the scoreboard in the third quarter. The Raiders drained five 3-pointers in the frame, while the Eagles did a good job answering, with four treys and six points from Lauren Magno, who picked up 12 points and 10 rebounds for a double-double.

But in the fourth, the inside presence of Daulerio, Magno, Theresa Breed, Jaden Lohr and others tired the Raiders out, with Mt. Ararat turning a slim 44-41 lead into a 13-point victory.

“One of our weaknesses is we get in our heads too much,” said Campney. “We had some of our small girls guarding their bigs, but they still guarded them and did a good job. Our smallest girls are the ones who work the hardest and are usually our higher rebounders.”

For Daulerio, the inside battles that sometimes go unnoticed is what she likes the most about basketball.

“I love to be on the inside and get rebounds. It was a big part of the game tonight,” Daulerio said. “A few times I gave the ball up too much, where I should have made a post move. Basketball is a game of runs, and we just needed to stay positive and continue to work as hard as we can.”

First half

As they have done throughout the 2019/20 season, the Eagles came out strong, jumping out to a 10-3 lead in the game’s first five minutes as Magno and Daulerio each scored four points.

The Raiders hung around by making shots from beyond the arc as Merys Carty drained a pair of treys. Camden Jones scored inside, but Eliza Libby stepped back and nailed a 3-pointer for Mt. Ararat for a 13-8 lead after a quarter.

Mt. Ararat’s Theresa Breed lines up a shot in the first half of Wednesday’s girls high school prelim basketball game in Topsham. (Bob Conn / The Times Record)

The second quarter turned into a turnover and foul-shooting contest. Mt. Ararat committed nine turnovers but still managed to extend its lead to 28-19 by the break. Libby led the Eagles with seven first-half points, while Magno chipped in six.

Trailing 44-38 after three quarter, the Raiders drew within three on a basket by Jones and a free throw from Carty.

Libby, who had nine points, four steals and four assists, threw in her second trey, beginning the game-clinching run.

Now, the Eagles will begin preparations for Greely, which enters Monday’s quarterfinal with a 17-1 mark.

“One of our goals was to get there, and it is a long season, a grind,” said Petrie’s of her team’s goal to make it back to the Expo this year. “We want to be playing our best basketball, and I think we are. We will have to mix it up. (Greely) is a phenomenal team, and we will need to play four solid quarters.”

Lohr was tough inside for Mt. Ararat, grabbing eight rebounds as the Eagles finished with a 45-28 edge on the boards. Breed added five rebounds, with Reese Turcotte picking up three steals and Kyla Greenleaf dishing out four assists.

Jones paced the Raiders with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Carty tossed in 12 points, and Brooke Emery and Sierra Lyman eight points apiece. Kayrin Johnson had eight rebounds and six steals.

 

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