ORONO, Maine — Payback was certainly on the mind of Sarah Thibeault, Chelsea Wagner and their Orono girls basketball teammates Tuesday night.
After losing to Schenck in East Millinocket on Dec. 15, the Red Riots’ only two seniors were determined not to let that happen again, much less on their home floor.
Orono was in control right from the outset, as Thibeault pumped in 20 first-half points in helping the Riots build a 40-10 halftime lead en route to a comfortable 62-43 victory over a flustered Wolverine squad which turned the ball over 21 times in the first half, thanks to Orono’s tenacious full-court pressure.
“We lost to this team before so we just wanted revenge, we just wanted to come back and play intense in the beginning,” said Thibeault, who finished with a game-high 21 points on 10-for-14 shooting.
Junior forward Allison Sherman was the other Red Riot in double-figures with 10 points while sophomore guard Jade Keezer had eight points, five steals and four assists.
Coach Jessica Libby’s club improved their tournament chances in upping their record to 9-6 while the Wolverines fell to 5-10.
The contest was never in doubt as Orono opened the game on a 12-0 run and led 27-6 after one quarter, thanks to a full-court trap that Schenck could not solve.
“Defensively, we were helping each other out, pressuring the ball, picking off passes, that’s when we’re effective is when we play defense as a group, not individuals,” said Libby, whose club had 16 steals.
Even as Orono’s lead kept growing, they kept the defensive pressure on, as Schenck was never able to settle into an offensive flow.
“We knew we wanted to get up and pressure them,” said Libby.
The defensive pressure led to multiple transition buckets, as the Riots consistently attacked the basket off Wolverine turnovers.
“That’s what we did, got a steal and were immediately looking to score and catch them off guard so they weren’t ready to play defense,” Libby said.
Schenck couldn’t find any answers for Thibeault or Sherman inside, as Sherman hauled down 11 rebounds to go with her 10 points. Both players found themselves open in the paint throughout the game.
“We have some strong post players and it’s our goal to get it inside,” said Wagner.
The Riots’ lead grew as high as 34 in the second half, enabling Libby to give many of her young players some action.
Orono has six freshman and two sophomores to complement its two juniors and two seniors.
“We got a really big lead and that’s good because we’ve got a lot of young kids who need to see varsity time, and the kids that are upperclassmen know that so it was good for them to get up to a big lead,” Libby said.
The Riots shot a solid 28-60 (46 percent) while holding Schenck to 32 percent (18-56).
Elizabeth Fox, another sophomore, contributed seven points, four steals and three assists for Orono.
Laura Nickerson and Sonya Brown netted 13 points apiece for Schenck.