MILLINOCKET, Maine — For Adriana Eurich, it was nearly deja vu all over again.
The Stearns High senior had once again torn her anterior cruciate ligament in a recent game against George Stevens Academy of Blue Hill, the same injury that kept her from participating in the Eastern Maine Class C tournament last year.
Fortunately for Eurich and the Minutemen, she only tore the graft muscle, allowing her to wear a brace to play. She was a force Friday night, helping lead a balanced attack as Stearns earned a pointworthy 50-43 victory over Houlton at Wentworth Gymnasium.
Coach Mike Portwine’s club, which went in ranked second in unofficial Heal point rankings, improves to 13-2 while the Shiretowners, ranked sixth, fall to 9-7.
Eurich was among three Minutemen in double figures, as she finished with 12 points, while classmate Sam Lyons had 14 points and 10 rebounds and Kirsten Marter added 12 points.
“We definitely came into this game with a lot of intensity, we knew we needed this win. Everyone was pumped up for it,” said Eurich.
After a sluggish first quarter during which both clubs struggled from the floor, Stearns grew more patient with the basketball in the second.
The Minutemen consistently worked the ball around the perimeter against the Shiretowners’ 2-3 zone, which led to an 8-0 run and the hosts taking an 11-point lead into the locker room.
“I think that we work really well with zones, it slows down our offense. We can definitely take our time and make good shots,” said Lyons.
Lyons, who stands 5-feet-11, was able to exploit Houlton’s limited presence in the post and get multiple easy layups off backdoor cuts and “face” cuts.
“I saw several instances where we had good ball movement, had very good shots,” said Portwine.
Eurich’s 3-pointer from the left wing 1:13 into the third quarter gave the Minutemen their biggest lead of the night at 27-11, but the Shires would chip away consistently, getting that margin down to 10 entering the fourth quarter.
But coach Shawn Graham’s club had a tough time getting stops, and the teams traded baskets most of the fourth quarter. Houlton would get no closer than eight.
The Minutemen’s offensive depth proved too much for the Shiretowners to handle. Guard Katie Mills dished out four assists and scored nine points,.
“Everyone has their jobs. Everyone plays a part,” Eurich said.
Stearns was consistent on the offensive end, shooting a solid 21-for-47 clip (44 percent) from the field.
“Our offense the last two nights has been pretty good,” Portwine said.
This win will likely assure the Minutemen a top-three seed come February vacation week, while they’d like to go in the No. 2 position.
“We could hopefully get the two spot with this win. [Houlton’s] worth a lot of points,” said Eurich.
Desiree Dow paced Houlton with 13 points while Vanessa Sanderson added 12.
BANGOR DAILY NEWS PHOTO BY MICHAEL YORK
Stearns’ Katie Mills attempts to drive between Houlton’s Vanessa Sanderson (left) and Lainey Herring in the second half at Wentworth Gym in Millinocket Friday night. Stearns won 50-43.