North Yarmouth Academy sophomore point guard Angel Huntsman, as always with her eyes up, looking to pass, is defended by St. Dom’s junior Jessie Zimmerman (23) and sophomore Ava Apodaca during the Panthers’ 64-17 victory Tuesday. Huntsman had a triple-double of 10 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists.

BOX SCORE

North Yarmouth Academy 64 St. Dom’s 17

SD- 2 6 7 2- 17
NYA- 17 10 20 17- 64

SD- Zimmerman 4-2-11, Perryman 2-0-4, Rowman 1-0-2

NYA- Onorato 6-0-15, Jackson 5-0-13, Bila 4-2-10, Huntsman 4-1-10, Reid 4-0-8, Gee 3-0-6, Beaudoin 1-0-2

3-pointers:
SD (1) Zimmerman 1
NYA (7) Jackson, Onorato 3, Huntsman 1

Turnovers:
SD- 28
NYA- 12

FTs
SD: 2-6
NYA: 3-9

YARMOUTH—The best girls’ basketball team that nobody’s talking about produced another stunning performance Tuesday evening.

The North Yarmouth Academy lost several key contributors from a 16-win team a year ago, but despite being young and not having a lot of size, the Panthers are a force to be reckoned with, can transition with the best of them and feature great balance.

All of which visiting St. Dom’s found out to its chagrin at NYA’s tiny gymnasium.

The Panthers took the lead for good on a 3-pointer from junior Lila Jackson and by the end of the first quarter, thanks in large part to forcing 11 Saints’ turnovers, enjoyed a a commanding 17-2 lead.

NYA, directed by sophomore point guard extraordinaire Angel Huntsman, continued to open it up in the second period and was up, 27-8, at the half.

The second half featured the Panthers getting the job done on defense, in transition and in the halfcourt set and went on to lead, 47-15, after three quarters and pulled away to a 64-17 victory.

Huntsman dazzled with a triple-double, sophomore Madilyn Onorato led the way with 15 points, Jackson added 13 and promising freshman Graca Bila wound up with 10 points as well as NYA improved to 7-0 on the season and in the process, dropped St. Dom’s to 3-2.

“We’re very young, but we believe in each other,” Huntsman said. “We all lean on each other. We’ve been working really hard. That’s what’s really showing.”

Chasing perfection

NYA played in the regional final in 2019, then won 16 games a year ago, although it was upset in the Class C South quarterfinals by Traip Academy. The program then said goodbye to the likes of Serena Mower, Katie Larson, Carly Downey, Maureen Grant  and twins Anna and Emily Drummond, but hasn’t missed a beat this winter.

The Panthers had only seriously been tested once, winning their first six games by an average of 26 points.

NYA opened by defeating visiting Sacopee Valley (72-22), then downed visiting Richmond (60-36), host Sacopee Valley (43-39) and Waynflete (53-24), visiting Morse (47-24) and host Richmond (63-36).

St. Dom’s, meanwhile, lost its opener to Dirigo (41-30), then defeated Pine Tree Academy (37-21), Buckfield (63-32) and Lisbon (57-27).

Last year, the teams split, with each winning on the road: NYA, 52-36, in Auburn and St. Dom’s, 33-30, in Yarmouth.

Tuesday, NYA took care of its home court and extended its win streak to seven in most impressive fashion.

Just nine seconds into the game, the tone was set, as Bila knocked down a jump shot.

The Saints drew even on a pair of free throws from talented junior Jessie Zimmerman with 7:17 left in the opening stanza, but they wouldn’t score again in the frame.

Twenty seconds later, Jackson’s 3 put the Panthers ahead to stay and after sophomore Erin Reid scored on a runner, Jackson made a second 3, Bila made two free throws, Huntsman made a layup after a steal, then Onorato scored her first points on a 3 and just like that, NYA was rolling, up 17-2.

The Panthers forced 11 first quarter turnovers and only gave the ball away once, but they committed seven turnovers in the second period, which prevented them from completely breaking the game open.

With 5:48 to go in the first half, St. Dom’s snapped the 15-0 NYA run and a 9-minute, 29-second drought when junior Bella Perryman hit a jumper for the visitors’ first field goal of the night, but Huntsman set up Reid for a layup and after Zimmerman scored on a leaner, Reid passed to Huntsman for a layup, Reid banked home a shot and Huntsman made a layup after a steal to make it 25-6.

Zimmerman countered with a layup, but just before the half, Huntsman set up Jackson for a layup and the Panthers took a 27-8 advantage to the break.

In the first half, Jackson led all scorers with eight points, while Reid added six, as did Huntsman, who also had six rebounds, four steals and four assists.

NYA freshman Graca Bila and St. Dom’s freshman Gabby Rowman fight for the ball.

Huntsman’s pinpoint passing was even more on display in the third quarter, as NYA stretched its advantage to over 30.

Just 13 seconds into the second half, Huntsman fed Bila for a layup.

After Zimmerman countered with a 3, Huntsman passed to Onorato for a layup and Jackson set up Reid on the fastbreak for a layup to make it 33-11.

After Perryman made a reverse layup, Onorato hit a 3, but with 5:14 left in the quarter, a Zimmerman layup pulled the Saints within 36-15.

They wouldn’t score again for a long time.

Onorato began a surge with a bank shot, Huntsman made a free throw, junior Acadia Gee scored on a putback, Huntsman set up Bila for a layup on the fastbreak, Gee hit a jumper and Huntsman passed to Onorato for another fastbreak layup and a 47-15 advantage after three periods.

NYA continued to impress at the start the fourth quarter, as Huntsman set up Jackson for a 3-pointer, then set her up for a jump shot. Next, Huntsman passed to Onorato, who made a 3, then, after setting up Bila for a layup, Huntsman made a 3-pointer of her own and the lead was 45 points, 60-15.

“I like assisting,” Huntsman said. “I like being a point guard who looks for players who are open. I see that as my job. I get the ball and I just look for someone breaking free. I’m confident in all my teammates.”

With 1:31 to play, a putback from freshman Gabby Rowman snapped St. Dom’s’ 11:43 drought and the Panthers’ 24-0 run.

In the final minute, Gee made a layup and senior Camille Beaudoin did as well and NYA closed out its 64-17 victory.

“Going into the year, I thought we’d get beaten up,” Panthers coach Tom Robinson said. “We graduated six of our top seven players, but our sophomore class has been great.”

Onorato was the game’s high scorer with 15 points. She also had eight rebounds, three blocked shots and two steals.

Jackson added 13 points and five rebounds.

Bila was an unstoppable force down low, scoring 10 points, collecting a game-high 19 rebounds and also registering six steals.

“Graca just goes after it,” said Robinson.

Then there was Huntsman, who had a rarely-seen triple-double, scoring 10 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 15 assists, which could have easily been 20-plus, were it not for numerous missed layups. Huntsman also had four steals.

“I’m having a blast,” Huntsman said. “The team has been great. We lost some strong players from last year, so this year is about building a new team and it’s going great.”

“Angel’s a great player,” Robinson said. “Even when others’ shots aren’t going in, she doesn’t try to get her own. She still looks to the open person. We want teams to press us because she’s the consummate point guard. She’s our only starter back, but last year, she was an off-guard. She’s a point guard and we want the ball in her hands. She’s got it all.”

Reid added eight points (to go with 14 rebounds, five assists and a pair of steals), Gee had six and Beaudoin two.

NYA made seven 3’s to one for St. Dom’s. The Panthers also enjoyed a commanding edge on the boards (71-40), committed just a dozen turnovers and made 3-of-9 free throws.

The Saints got 11 points, eight rebounds and three blocks from Zimmerman, four points and eight rebounds from Perryman and two points from Rowman.

St. Dom’s made just 2-of-6 foul shots and committed 28 turnovers.

Short and sweet

St. Dom’s has a pair of games remaining versus Sacopee Valley, then finishes against Pine Tree Academy.

As for NYA, it figures to get a test Saturday afternoon when it welcomes defending Class AA South champion South Portland.

“We’ll have a really good game against South Portland Saturday,” Robinson said. “We want some good competition. Whatever happens happens.”

The Panthers then host Waynflete next Tuesday, before finishing at Lisbon March 11.

“I’m hoping we can go undefeated,” Huntsman said. “We’ll be back next year and this year’s experience is very helpful. It’s been a hard year, but we’ve done a lot of team bonding and leaning on each other.”

“We want to finish strong next week,” Robinson said. “We’ll have better numbers next year. We don’t lose much and we have some good eighth graders coming in. Our goal is to have a JV team. I think we’ll really compete next year.”

Michael Hoffer can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @foresports.

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