BANGOR, Maine — With only four seniors on a roster laden with sophomores and juniors, the Lawrence girls basketball team has been trying to find an identity in this young season.
Although the Bulldogs of Fairfield have struggled offensively, their defense has been superb.
That defense came into play against Bangor Monday night, as Lawrence held the Rams to two field goals in the fourth quarter and made several key stops down the stretch to hold on for a 41-39 KVAC Class A victory.
The game was originally scheduled for last Friday but was postponed due to inclement weather.
Lawrence is now 2-1 while Bangor heads into tonight’s game at rival Brewer 1-2.
Coach Jason Pellerin’s Bulldogs held a six-point lead with 3:35 to play after Kelli Murray sank one of two free throws.
Even though the Bulldogs was held scoreless the rest of the way, they outworked the Rams on the glass and limited their second-chance scoring opportunities.
“We strive on our defense and we knew that we just had to box out and get in passing lanes and that’s what we did,” said Murray, who was Lawrence’s offensive catalyst with 13 points, a game-high.
The Bulldogs’ man-to-man attack held Bangor to without a field goal the first 5:11 of the final period, when Brianna Tocci’s 10-foot pullup pulled Bangor within four.
The teams battled to a standstill the next couple minutes before Tocci drove down the ring wing and kissed a runner off the glass with 18 seconds left.
The Rams had a chance to tie it after Hillary Throckmorton came up with a steal, but her short jumper in the lane rimmed out and Bangor never got another shot off.
“We just came out and wanted to play as hard as we could and the girls did that tonight,” Pellerin said.
Lawrence has struggled offensively early in the season, and its 41 points were a season-high.
“I think we’re trying to find our roles within the offense, find out what works in given situations,” said Pellerin. “We’re just trying to come together.”
The Bulldogs are also trying to find their go-to player on the offensive end.
“We’re looking for someone to step up offensively because that would really help us right now,” said Murray.
Murray stepped in and hit some big shots in the second half, when she scored nine of her 13 points.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Murray canned a deep 3-pointer which gave Lawrence a five-point lead and a little bit of breathing room.
Bangor, which is also young with only three seniors on its roster, is still trying to find its own identity and gel as a cohesive unit.
“We have to improve in every area of the game, the only way you can get experience is to play,” said Bangor coach tom Tennett, whose tallest player, 5-foot-11 junior Stephanie Comstock, spent a majority of the second half on the bench in foul trouble and didn’t play the last 4:44 after picking up her fourth.
Also, Tennett found himself having to shuffle his lineup in the second quarter when Bangor’s fouls started to pile up.
“We had to keep taking people out not because it’s a substitution you want to make but because it’s a substitution you have to make,” he said.
The quicker Bulldogs forced Bangor into 17 turnovers, a stat Tennett would like to see reduced.
“We’ve got to do a better job controlling the basketball,” he said.
Haley McGee netted nine points for Lawrence while Throckmorton scored 10 points, all in the first half, to lead Bangor.
BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY LINDA COAN O’KRESIK
Bangor sophomore Hillary Throckmorton puts up a shot as Lawrence’s Kayla Robinson defends during the first half of Monday’s Class A basketball game in Bangor.