ORONO, Maine — Since the Orono girls basketball team hadn’t played a game since Dec. 18 or practiced since Dec. 21, coach Jessica Libby expected things to be a tad helter-skelter Monday night against Schenck of East Millinocket.
“This was somewhat expected, our last game was [Penobscot Valley on Dec. 18],” said Libby, whose team had a Dec. 22 game against Foxcroft Academy snowed out.
Even though the Red Riots got balanced scoring and dominated the backboards with two players grabbing 10 rebounds, they made a few mistakes but still came away with a 51-38 win over a hardworking Wolverines’ team that trimmed a 23-point first-half deficit to as low as seven.
“We knew that they were going to be a pretty good team, make runs at us,” said Libby, whose club improved to 6-0 heading into Wednesday’s home showdown with Washington Academy of East Machias.
Class D contender Schenck is now 3-3.
Orono was the team making all the runs in the first half. Elizabeth Fox, who led all scorers with 17 points, sparked a 15-4 first-quarter burst with eight points while she scored 11 overall in the first half as the Riots’ built a 31-10 halftime lead.
“I didn’t even know I scored that many points but it was definitely good for us to get a good start so that we had a good, strong lead going into the second half,” Fox said.
It’s a good thing the Riots had that lead, because Schenck’s zone pressure intensified in the second half, as the Wolverines mixed with 1-3-1 and 2-3 traps and forced 14 Orono turnovers.
“It’s hard to stay up when you’re up 21 points or whatever it was at halftime,” Libby said.
Schenck held Orono to two field goals in the third quarter and really put a scare into the Riots in the fourth, going on an 8-0 run capped by Jade DiCentes’ point-blank jumper in the lane to bring the Wolverines within 45-38 with two minutes to play.
Coach Darrick Thompson’s club couldn’t get any closer, and Orono hit its free throws to cement the win.
Free-throw shooting proved to be one of the differences, as the Riots were 18-for-26 at the line.
“Orono hit their free throws. Hats off to Orono. [If] they miss some free throws, that’s a different ballgame,” said Thompson.
Kristina Jamo and Sonya Brown spearheaded Schenck’s defensive pressure with five steals apiece, and the Wolverines were able to generate some layups off Orono miscues to make things interesting.
“I told the girls, don’t hang your head if you come out here with a loss tonight, just don’t come out losing by 30,” Thompson said.
Freshman Jillian Woodward notched a double-double for Orono with 11 points and 10 rebounds while also blocking four shots. Ally Sherman had eight points and 11 boards and Jade Keezer made four steals.
Fox was thanking the Wolverines after the game for sticking a hard-nosed effort to the Riots in the second half.
I think it was good for us to have a little bit of a tougher game than we’ve had so far to get us ready for WA,” the junior guard said. “WA’s definitely going to be the toughest team we’ve played so far.”
Brown and Laura Nicholson had nine points apiece to lead Schenck.