BANGOR, Maine — None of their players, heck, not even their coach, had ever set foot on the Bangor Auditorium hardwood.
But the Foxcroft Academy girls played like a team with plenty of tournament basketball experience Wednesday morning.
Seniors Sabrina Sharrow and Bekah Flanders each pumped in 17 points as coach Rachel Bousquet’s top-ranked Ponies galloped to a 52-36 win over No. 9 Fort Kent in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal.
Foxcroft will play No. 5 Washington Academy of East Machias in a 8:35 p.m. semifinal on Friday. The Raiders beat No. 4 Houlton 45-38 earlier in the day.
In the second game, while Flanders and Sharrow took care of the offense, the key to this game for Foxcroft (16-3) was slowing down Fort Kent 1,000-point scorer Taylor Boucher.
Jennifer Seavey and Meghan Keene followed the Warriors’ senior wherever she went, limiting her to 15 points on 5-for-25 shooting from the floor and not allowing her to get any open shots off screens.
“She’s an excellent player, she has an awesome shot,” said Sharrow. “We had to stop her and [Sam Carapellucci]. We really focused on that.”
Carapellucci did keep Fort Kent in the game for a quarter, scoring four first-quarter points as the Warriors trailed just 13-7 after one.
However, the Ponies opened it up with a 11-0 run in the second quarter that featured a couple of perimeter shots from Sharrow, who scored 14 of her points in the first half as Foxcroft built a 29-11 lead at the break.
Sharrow was open on the perimeter because the Warriors were double-teaming 6-footer Vanessa Lougee in the paint.
“We knew we had to shoot outside because Vanessa Lougee was going to be double-teamed,” Sharrow said. “We knew if we shot outside they would come out of double-teaming her.”
Foxcroft led by as many as 20 in the second half, and the Ponies dominated on the offensive glass, gathering 11 boards which led to multiple second- and third-chance points.
Bousquet knew that her players would have to get over nerves over the first few minutes of the game, and they settled in fine.
“I was jittery myself, this was my first time on the floor,” Bousquet said. “But again, when this senior core group were juniors we really evaluated what we wanted. These girls put in a ton of time and it shows.”
In the earlier game, Washington Academy used its tournament experience and a balanced offense to pull away from a young Houlton squad.
The Raiders (15-4) led just 34-30 after three quarters, but started the fourth on an 8-2 run, capped by Taylor Seeley’s backdoor layup to give coach Gary Wood’s club a 10-point advantage.
Seeley led the Raiders with 11 points while Andi Flannery, Christy Smith and Sarah Lehman contributed eight apiece with Lehman scoring six in the second half.
“This team is really balanced, we’ve got some outside shooting with [Bre] Nicely, Smith and [Kirsti] Wright off the bench,” said Wood. “Lehman came off the bench, stepped up, hit three key baskets. She did a good job for us.”
The scrappy Shiretowners (14-5) were able to hang tough thanks to the outstanding play of senior Vanessa Sanderson, who would be named a Miss Maine Basketball semifinalist later in the day.
She scored 20 points, but no other Shiretowner had more than six.
“The biggest factor for us [was] offensively was we couldn’t get into any flow,” said Houlton coach Shawn Graham. “We missed some layups, we missed some free throws.”
Washington Academy, which played for the Eastern Maine championship last winter, committed 18 turnovers.
“We certainly didn’t play our best, but Houlton had a lot to do with that,” said Wood. “In a tournament like this, you sometimes have one game like that, so hopefully we’ll come out a little bit stronger on Friday.”
Nicely paced the Raiders’ defensive efforts with three blocked shots and three steals, and after Sanderson scored eight first-quarter points for the Shires, the Raiders double- and triple-teamed her whenever she got the ball.