BANGOR, Maine — George Stevens Academy executed all the little things soundly Saturday night, and the reward was the program’s first Eastern Maine Class C championship since 2000.
The third-seeded Eagles from Blue Hill placed three scorers in double figures, forced 19 turnovers while only committing 11 and shot a solid 23-for-35 from the foul line en route to a 51-41 win over No. 5 Washington Academy of East Machias at the Bangor Auditorium.
“Our defense is our strongest goal and we’ve been working on defense more and more as we’ve been progressing through the season,” said junior forward India Frazier, whose 18-3 Eagles play Western champ Jay in Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. state final in Bangor.
The Raiders complete their season 14-7.
With both clubs a mirror image of athleticism and quickness, coach Donald Allen’s Eagles attacked the Raiders right from the opening tip. As a result, one of WA’s key players in the post, Andi Flannery, picked up three fouls in the first half, and George Stevens took advantage at the line, shooting a 14-for-17 clip in the first half in building a five-point halftime lead which could’ve been larger.
“[At halftime coach told us] to slow down and stop forcing shots and believe in ourselves and start making shots and spread the ball around more,” said Frazier, who finished with 16 points.
GSA’s Stevie Theoharidis led all scorers with 17 points while Maddie Park finished with 13.
“When we slowed down, we were playing our game,” said Park.
The Eagles finally got some breathing room early in the second half, as Alida Peake’s 3-pointer from the top of the key gave them an eight-point lead, which eventually stretched to 13 on a Theoharidis layup halfway through the third.
“That lead was big for us because they started shooting 3s and we committed a couple turnovers which gave them life,” said Eagles coach Donald Allen, who celebrated his birthday Saturday night.
Washington Academy, which only has two seniors, refused to go quietly. Slowly but surely, the Raiders chipped away during the fourth quarter, climbing back to within four on Taylor Seeley’s follow-up shot with 1:47 left.
After a WA timeout, Park converted a similar shot on the Eagles’ next possession and, after Theoharidis missed the front end of a one-and-one, Peake stole the ball and fed Frazier for the game-clinching layup with 1:01 to play.
The little things were instrumental throughout as Emily Peake had four steals while the Eagles held the Raiders to nine offensive rebounds.
“That’s what we preach all year long is those fundamentals, and if we’re good at those, we’re usually successful,” said Allen.
After narrowly missing out on a chance to reach the regional finals last winter, playing for the gold ball is all the sweeter for the Eagles.
“The main focus was to play our game. We knew that we’re one of the top teams in this class and if we work hard we can get there,” Park said.
Seeley finished with 14 points and Flannery 12 for the Raiders.