BANGOR, Maine — Records can be deceiving, especially in the Eastern Maine Class A girls basketball ranks.
The Bangor girls didn’t look like the team that had lost to Erskine Academy on the road barely a week ago, and with a monumental task vs. undefeated Skowhegan at Red Barry Gym Thursday evening, the Rams showed plenty of heart and character.
The Indians came away with a hard-fought 42-38 win to improve to 13-0 while Skowhegan coach Heath Cowan knew 5-7 Bangor would challenge his club.
“No question, that’s the best 5-7 team in the country. Period,” said Cowan, whose normally sound-shooting team was held to 16-for-52 (30 percent) from the field, including 3-for-17 from 3-point range.
Skowhegan, which led 18-17 at halftime, started to open a gap in the third quarter, and Adrienne Davis’ breakaway layup gave the Indians their biggest lead of the night at 32-22 with a little more than two minutes to go.
But the Rams refused to go away, closing to within five at quarter’s end and eventually tying the game at 36 on Kate Treadwell’s free throws with 3:04 to play in regulation.
“That’s the [Bangor] team everyone expected this year, the team that finishes, plays defense,” said Cowan.
Whitney Jones, who led all scorers with 16 points, put Skowhegan back up with a foul-line pull-up with 2:46 to play, while Davis hit two free throws with 1:24 remaining and another with 39 seconds left to stretch that lead out to five.
Melanie Jackson got the Rams back within striking distance with a follow-up basket with 15 seconds left, making it 41-38, and after Davis missed two free throws, Bangor had a chance for a tie. However, Hillary Throckmorton’s 3-point attempt with eight seconds to go rimmed out, and Mackenzie Smith hit a free throw to seal the Skowhegan victory.
Jones, one of the quickest guards in the state, scored 12 of her points in the second half, rising to the occasion when her team needed her.
“Jonesy put us on her back and said not today, I’m going to carry you to the clubhouse,” Cowan said. “I thought she did a great job for us.”
Bangor’s in-your-face man-to-man pressure denied the Indians many open looks at the hoop, and Jones faced double-teams any time she penetrated into the lane.
“Our biggest thing was stopping Whitney Jones from getting any dribble-penetration,” said Bangor coach Tom Tennett. “She’s a great player.”
But Jones attributed Skowhegan’s shooting woes to impatience on the offensive end.
“I think we had pretty good penetration overall, but I think it was more impatience,” Jones said. “We didn’t slow our offense down and get the shots we usually want and rushed it a little bit.”
And the Indians’ perimeter woes were a bit uncharacteristic.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well tonight, that’s part of it,” Cowan said. Usually when we take 17 3’s we’re going to make more than three of them.”
With plenty of Heal points on the line for Bangor, and Skowhegan’s unbeaten season at stake, Jones certainly expected the effort the Rams showed.
“We definitely knew that we were going to come in here and fight,” Jones said. “Bangor’s a really good team, this was one of their opportunities to get back in the playoffs.”
Davis and Smith had nine points apiece for Skowhegan, which never trailed in the second half.
Throckmorton finished with 10 points and Comstock chipped in with six points and six rebounds for Bangor.