ORONO — It was a win that won’t look pretty on the stat sheet, but Orono girls basketball coach Jessica Libby will take it and the Heal points.
The Red Riots forced 22 Schenck turnovers and used a consistent offensive effort to post a 48-30 victory over the Wolverines Friday night.
More importantly, Orono (9-6) picked up some valuable points from a Schenck club (10-4) which had beaten the Riots 38-31 in East Millinocket on Jan. 8.
Orono entered Friday’s play sixth in Class C while Schenck came in fourth in Class D.
Senior guard Jade Keezer powered a balanced Orono attack with 14 points with an 11-for-13 effort from the foul line while senior Morgan Dickey had 12 and Jillian Woodward seven points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Dickey and Woodward were non-factors in the first meeting between these two clubs, but the Riots did a better job using their height advantage this time around.
“Our two big girls, Jillian and Morgan, played better here than they did at Schenck which helped,” said Libby.
The Riots never trailed after Caleigh Paul drained a 3-pointer from the left corner with just over two minutes go to in the first quarter, and a perimeter shot from Elea Kass and two free throws by Keezer started a 14-0 Orono run which ballooned its lead to 21-7.
Keezer was fouled shooting a deep 3-pointer as the first-quarter buzzer sounded.
“If a team’s going to foul you, you need to make them pay at the foul line,” Libby said.
Orono did that in a big way, going 20-of-36 from the stripe with Leah Bryant sinking 6 of her 10 free-throw attempts, all in the fourth quarter.
“We knew that we needed to play hard because we lost to them before, and they’re a really good team,” said Keezer.
The Riots led 27-11 at halftime as their man-to-man pressure forced the Wolverines into some hurried shots, while Woodward and Dickey controlled the glass and limited Schenck’s opportunities for second- and third-chance looks.
“We knew that we needed to box out, that was going to be a key to this game,” said Dickey.
Schenck did make a spirited comeback late in the third and into the fourth quarter, with Laura Nicholson scoring six points to fuel a 10-0 run that trimmed Orono’s lead to single digits.
But a Woodward foul shot and two more by Keezer on a technical foul restored the Riots’ lead to 12, and it wouldn’t go below 10 points again as Orono shot 12-of-20 from the line in the final five minutes.
The clubs combined for 44 turnovers, but Orono was more patient in its offensive sets and the Riots were rewarded with solid looks within 10 feet of the hoop.
“We were a lot more composed on offense, and we reversed the ball and held the ball a lot more,” said Keezer.
The Riots also did a good job of keeping their composure late when the aggressive Wolverines went for steals and fouls.
“We knew they were going to come and foul us near the end of the game, so instead of driving into pressure we backed out of it,” Libby said.
Nicholson was Schenck’s lone double-digits score with 12 points while Morgan Thompson had nine. Kristin Thompson paced the Wolverines’ defensive effort with four steals, while Mackenzie Bell also had four steals.