HERMON, Maine — The preliminary round of tournament play has not been nice to the Hermon girls basketball team as of late.
Over the last four years, the Hawks have come up one agonizing game short of playing in the Bangor Auditorium, but coach Margie Deabay’s club erased those demons Tuesday night, going 18-for-23 from the foul line — all in the fourth quarter — as No. 7 Hermon ousted No. 10 Mattanawcook of Lincoln 55-47 in a Class B prelim.
Hermon (11-8) advances to take on second-ranked Mount Desert Island Saturday morning at 9:05 while Mattanawcook finishes its season with the same record.
The Hawks haven’t played at the Auditorium since 2005.
It appeared the Hawks were going to soar away with this one throughout the second and third quarters, during which they outscored the Lynx 25-12 to build a 16-point lead heading into the fourth.
Mattanawcook then extended its full-court pressure and eventually closed within six in the final minute after Michelle Paul’s 3-pointer from the right wing, but the Hawks were clutch from the foul line.
“Everybody knows games are won and lost on the foul line,” said Deabay. “The girls proved tonight that if you make fouls shots, you can win games.”
Victoria Davenport and Ashley Thayer helped lead the charge, with Davenport scoring seven fourth-quarter points and Thayer six more.
“Every practice we do 25 foul shots, and as a team we have to make 17, and if not we do ladders for every one we miss,” said Davenport, who led her team with 15 points.
Ripley King, who totaled 14 points, and freshman Kayla Snow, who came off the bench to score nine, helped the Hawks build their first-half lead after holding on to a 12-9 edge after one quarter.
Snow’s 3-pointer from the right wing late in the first half put Hermon up 23-13 while King scored eight of her points over the first two periods.
”She was huge, for a freshman she was huge coming off the bench and just being able to make those baskets,” Deabay said. “She’s been stepping up more and more every game and this game she really did play a huge part.”
King played a pivotal role in Hermon’s post game, and although the Lynx switched from a man-to-man to a zone throughout the contest, she, Davenport and Snow constantly found themselves open within 15 feet of the basket.
“They hit some shots, maybe we were out of position at times on defense,” said Mattanawcook coach Brian McDormand. “We let Snow open, she killed us really.”
Mattanawcook’s pressure did help the Lynx forge their late-game rally, forcing Hermon into 10 second-half turnovers, but the Hawks, who have been involved in a lot of close games this winter, didn’t back down.
“We’re used to the pressure because of all the close games we’ve had this season,” Davenport said.
And that has helped Hermon achieve its goal of reaching the regional quarterfinals.
“That’s the goal for every team when you start basketball in the summer,” Deabay said. “They just wanted to get there, its been five years since we’ve been to the Auditorium, they just want to get a chance to play, and anything can happen once you get there, so they’re excited.”
Brittany Libbey was Mattanawcook’s high scorer with 15 points, and she also had four steals. Brooke Hanscom also had four steals for the Lynx.