BANGOR, Maine — Top-ranked Woodland used its fullcourt pressure to force 31 Lubec turnovers, and Ashley Laking scored 22 points as the defending state champions fought off the ninth-seeded Hornets 66-47 Monday in an Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinal.
“Our defense is the key to everything,” said guard Julia Nicholas, one of just two seniors on the Woodland roster. “We like to pressure the ball a lot.”
The win advances coach Arnold Clark’s club to a semifinal matchup Thursday against No. 5 Washburn, while Lubec ends a solid season at 13-7.
In the afternoon’s first game, 6-foot senior center Rachel Palmer turned in a strong game to lead Washburn by Central Aroostook of Mars Hill 38-27.
In the afternoon’s second game, Woodland (18-0) was the only Eastern D girls team to earn a preliminary-round bye, and the Dragons struggled to finish off their offensive sets on the first try after more than a week off since their last countable game.
But the Dragons outrebounded Lubec 48-25, which enabled them to take 79 field-goal attempts compared to 46 for Lubec — whose nine-player roster included three freshmen and two eighth-graders.
“We had to play good defense underneath and try to box out because they do have a lot of players,” said Lubec senior guard Shelby Searles. “We did the best we could.”
Lubec stayed within 32-24 at intermission, as Searles scored 12 points to offset 18 turnovers by the Hornets.
Woodland stretched its lead to double digits in the third quarter thanks to fullcourt defense that featured the 5-foot-8 Laking, 5-7 Kelsey Burtt and 5-7 Molly White forcing turnovers and Laking cashing in at the offensive end.
The Dragons’ lead grew to 50-33 late in the third quarter, then they held Lubec without a field goal for more than three minutes of the fourth period.
“We started out a little rough, we always do after a whole week off,” said Nicholas, “but in the end we came together as a team and played how we always do with our defense.”
White finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, while Taylor Cochran had 11 points and nine rebounds and Burtt had six points and nine rebounds.
Searles had 24 points and six rebounds for Lubec. Amanda Huntley added 11 points and eight rebounds.
In the afternoon’s first game, Washburn’s Palmer said she prefers it when teams try to front her, like CAHS did, than play behind her.
“It’s a lot easier to get around them and get the ball,” she explained after torching the Panthers for 20 points, 16 rebounds and four blocked shots, all game-highs, to lead the fifth-seeded Beavers past the fourth-seeded Panthers 38-27 at the Bangor Auditorium.
“The last couple of times we played them, I didn’t get a lot of points,” added Palmer. “But I came prepared and was really confident in what I was doing.”
Central Aroostook, which doesn’t have a player taller than 5-foot-7, had won both regular season meetings.
“We were outsized, pretty much. We didn’t really know what to do,” said Central Aroostook junior guard Chelsea Hartin. “We’re also a young team. They had a lot of experience on the floor while we had two freshmen and the others didn’t play much last year.”
Five-foot-eight sophomore forward Rebecca Campbell compli-mented Palmer with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. Sarah Sjoberg grabbed six rebounds for 15-5 Washburn.
“Coach [Ron Ericson] wanted me to help Rachel out inside as much as possible. If it meant shooting outside [to open up the inside game], that’s what I needed to do,” said Campbell, who had two 3-pointers.
The Beavers took the lead for good by scoring the last 10 points of the first half to erase a three-point deficit and they used an 11-point run in the third quarter to expand the lead to 32-15.
The Panthers couldn’t get any closer than nine.
Freshman Victoria McIntyre had an impressive Bangor Auditorium debut for 15-5 CAHS with 17 points, five rebounds and three steals. Brianna Hartin had five assists and Kristen Long had four rebounds and two steals.
Washburn outrebounded CAHS 30-15 and limited CA to 23.8 percent shooting from the floor.