BANGOR, Maine — What hurt the John Bapst girls basketball team in its quarterfinal win helped it in emerging from the Eastern Maine Class B semifinals, and that was free-throw shooting.
Coach Mike Webb’s second-ranked Crusaders went 12-for-20 from the foul line in the fourth quarter, with Maquillan and Morgan Chasse combining to go 10-for-16 from the line for the game as Bapst earned a 37-26 victory over No. 3 Presque Isle at the Bangor Auditorium Wednesday.
The Crusaders improve to 19-2 and advance to Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. regional final against top-ranked and undefeated Waterville while Presque Isle winds up 16-5.
The Purple Panthers won their 64th straight game, 56-28 over No. 5 Mount View of Thorndike in the second semifinal.
In the early game, the Wildcats struggled to get into an offensive rhythm in the first half, primarily thanks to tough Crusader defense and rebounding, and PI had just two field goals in the first half yet trailed only 14-7 at halftime.
“We told them at halftime we were right there,” said Wildcats coach Jeff Hudson.
Presque Isle battled back in the third and looked poised to go into the fourth down by only one, but Maquillan canned a deep 3-pointer as time expired to put Bapst up 23-19.
After the ‘Cats rallied to take a 24-23 lead on Chelsea Nickerson’s three from the right wing, Maquillan’s short runner a minute later gave the Crusaders the lead for good.
“The first one was definitely just luck [and] the second one was definitely what we needed,” Maquillan said of her two game-changing plays.
Maquillan and the Bapst defense held the Wildcats without a field goal after Nickerson’s three, which came at the 6:22 mark.
“We were right there and we couldn’t hit a shot, we had that stretch at the end of the game where we didn’t make anything,” said Hudson. “I’m proud of my kids, they played hard.”
The Crusaders would take advantage of PI’s shooting woes, as Maquillan scored seven of her 10 points in the final period and was 5-8 at the line over the game’s final 1:32.
Sam Gormley posted a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds for Bapst.
Sarah Porter was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 12 points while Nickerson finished with seven.
In the afternoon’s second game, Mount View High School girls basketball coach John Donato was worried about how his Mustangs were going to handle Waterville’s full-court pressure.
His concerns came to fruition.
The tenacious and deep Purple Panthers forced 14 turnovers in the first half with their swarming, in-your-face press and they outscored Mount View 20-6 over the final 13 minutes en route to a berth in the final.
“We know, going into every game, that we may not have a great offensive night. But we know we’re going to give it our all on the defensive end and if we limit a team to 40 points or less, we have so many scorers on the team that we’re going to be in a good position [to win],” said Waterville senior guard Jennifer Nale, who paced all scorers with 17 points and also had three steals.
“We played a very synergetic game as our coach [Ted Rioux] would love to say. We played well together,” added Nale.
“We like to work hard on defense. We played really well,” said Panthers center Morgan Frame, who had eight points and a game-high 15 rebounds.
“We struggle with the press,” said Mount View senior guard Alexis Bennett, who had a team-high six points. “We felt the pressure and didn’t handle the ball well.”
Bennett also said Waterville has more depth and “we got tired.”
“When we play good defense, we’re a tough team to beat,” said Rioux, whose Panthers won their 64th straight game.
Waterville, 20-0, jumped out to an 11-3 lead with the last three baskets coming directly off steals as Taylor Frame’s steal and pass resulted in Paige Gardiner’s layup; Frame converted her own steal with a lay-in and Gardiner made a steal and a lay-up.
Bennett hit a runner to cut the lead to 11-5 but Waterville scored the next six points with Nale and Taylor Frame netting three each.
The Panthers closed out the half with a 12-2 run featuring points from six different scorers.
That made it 27-9 and Mount View couldn’t get any closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Gardiner and Taylor Frame had seven points each and Gardiner also had five rebounds and two steals.
Dakota McAdam and Macy Montminy combined for nine rebounds for Mount View, which wound up an outstanding 17-4 season.