BANGOR, Maine — Fort Fairfield freshman guard Sydney Churchill came off the bench to score eight straight points and the second-seeded Tigers used their superior height and effective 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones to limit seventh seed Shead to just 24.4 percent shooting from the floor en route to a 49-30 Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinal win at the Bangor Auditorium Monday.
Fort Fairfield will face No. 3 Southern Aroostook of Dyer Brook, which won Monday’s first Eastern Maine Class D quarterfinal 67-39 over No. 6 Deer Isle-Stonington, in a semifinal at 7:05 p.m. on Thursday.
Churchill, who finished with 16 points, entered the game with two minutes left in the first quarter and her eight consecutive points came in the midst of a 12-0 run that turned a 3-3 tie into a 15-3 lead.
Fort Fairfield led by double figures the rest of the way.
Churchill hit a 3-pointer from the right corner the first time she touched the ball.
“We had a play set up with misdirection and Coach [Larry Gardner] has me shoot,” explain Churchill, who received the ball from her cousin, Courtney Churchill.
Sydney Churchill closed out the first period with a short jumper off a Brooke Beaulieu pass and she opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer from deep in the corner off a Kelsie Wilson feed.
“If I’m hitting my shots. Coach wants me shooting as much as possible,” said Churchill.
“She’s a strong 3-point shooter for us. She lifted our spirits big time,” said Beaulieu.
Fort Fairfield led by as many as 16 through the first three quarters but Shead cut the lead to 24-13 thanks to a full-court press that created turnovers.
Churchill nailed a 3-pointer from the corner to open the fourth quarter and that triggered a clinching 8-2 run.
Hotham also had 16 points for the 18-1 winners and her 12 rebounds and five steals were game-highs.
Beaulieu had seven rebounds and a game-high five blocked shots to go with her four points and Courtney Churchill had six points.
Kirby McPhail had seven points and three steals for 11-8 Shead. Vanessa Patterson, Shelby Seavey and Jodyn Turner had five points apiece.
Fort Fairfield outrebounded Shead 29-16.
“They were much bigger and we didn’t get too many good shots off. We were too hesitant to shoot,” said Shead coach Sara [Ricker] Moore. “Our press and our defense did what it needed to do but we struggled offensively.”
In the first game, the Warriors’ height and speed were too much for the Mariners, who were making their first tourney appearance since 1989.
SAHS, now 16-2, had a five-point lead at the end of the first quarter but stretched that to 16 points by halftime. The Warriors’ half-court trap defense helped force seven Deer Isle-Stonington turnovers, including four second-quarter steals by Evangeline Goodall (10 points).
Liz Goodall, who had a game-high 17 points, scored SAHS’s first four baskets of the second quarter, putting the Warriors up 19-6 from which the Mariners could not recover.
“Me and my sister are really quick and we work well together,” Liz Goodall said. “When we do, we combine [to create] steals all the time.”
Southern Aroostook also used its height to bottle up the inside with a 2-3 zone defense. The Warriors had a 41-31 rebounding edge and took advantage of its power on the offensive boards – 5-foot-10 center Lauren McGary scored 14 points, including four offensive-rebound putbacks. She finished with 11 rebounds and 5-10 center Shelby Hartin had a game-high 15 boards.
“The inside game, we knew going in was going to be tough for us.,” DI-S coach Darren Eaton said. “We knew we were going to have a hard time if we didn’t control the tempo. They forced the issue a little bit and tried to speed it up. They’re very, very athletic.”
Jasmine Rockwell added 13 points for Southern Aroostook. She hit all eight of her free-throw attempts.
Chelsea Brown led the way for DI-S (11-8) with 14 points and seven rebouns. Britnie Jones added 12 points, and Heidi Brewer was 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.