BANGOR, Maine — The rest of Eastern Maine Class A had better be warned: The Bangor girls basketball team is making a late charge for a postseason berth.
Only hindering the Rams’ recent play was a humbling loss at Erskine Academy on Jan. 9, which gave coach Tom Tennett’s club a wake-up call.
Bangor has answered the bell with trademark tough defense, and the Rams earned their third victory in four games with a 59-50 win over Mount Ararat of Topsham at Red Barry Gym Friday evening.
Tennett’s team avenged a 60-47 loss to the Eagles in December, evened its record at 7-7 and picked up some Heal points from fourth-place Mount Ararat, which is now 8-6.
“We’ve been working on defense for the past week in practice, so this was definitely one of the games where we showed that,” said Bangor senior Stephanie Comstock.
The Rams’ man-to-man pressure stifled the Eagles’ attack early, as Mount Ararat didn’t hit its initial field goal until Hannah Fenwick’s fadeaway jumper in the lane with 1:20 left in the first quarter.
That effort coupled with a balanced offense led to an 18-9 Bangor lead after one. But Comstock and Kate Treadwell, who both stand six feet tall, ran into some foul trouble in the second and MA’s Tess Hitchcock took advantage.
She scored all of the Eagles’ points during a 12-0 run which gave the visitors a 29-25 lead with just under two minutes left in the half.
“We didn’t do a good job on her at all. We were in a little bit of foul trouble, so maybe we didn’t have the best matchups we could’ve had on her when she was posting up,” Tennett said.
Hitchcock scored 14 of her team-high 22 points in the second quarter.
But the Rams would answer the challenge, as layups from Hillary Throckmorton and Treadwell tied it before Breianna Tocci canned a 3-pointer from the right corner to give Bangor a 32-29 halftime lead.
The Rams never trailed in the second half.
“That was great. We just went crazy on the bench, everyone was just thrilled,” said Throckmorton, who led all scorers with 25 points, including an 8-for-10 effort from the free-throw line.
It was Throckmorton who sparked a 16-6 third-quarter Bangor scoring burst with a shot from the left wing while Megan Doucette capped it with a 3-ball from the right side to beat the buzzer.
Mount Ararat couldn’t draw closer than five in the final period.
The Rams’ defense frustrated the Eagles’ attack throughout the night, forcing 25 turnovers. Melanie Jackson paced that effort with five steals while Throckmorton had four.
“We need to get some easy baskets, transition baskets off steals, and I thought we did a pretty good job on that tonight,” Tennett said.
They also did a better job on Hitchcock, and every time she had the ball in the second half she was surrounded by white shirts. All of her second-half points came from the foul line.
Bangor also took care of the basketball well, turning it over only 19 times while re-adjusting its offense after halftime.
“I think we just got a little tired and we were just trying to go 1,000 miles an hour,” Comstock said. “We were just trying to do one pass and a shot, and it just wasn’t working. Once we slowed down, we hit it right on.”
Throckmorton, who poured in 15 second-half points, agreed.
“We just had to work harder and I think we did,” she said. “We had to just take every possession slow, work it around. We had some sparks like Breianna Tocci and Megan Doucette both hitting 3’s there, so that was nice.”
Fenwick registered 16 points, nine rebounds and four steals for Mount Ararat, which shot 24-for-29 from the foul line.