BANGOR — Two teams vying for a spot in the Eastern Maine Class A schoolgirl basketball tournament played with tremendous passion and determination and the sense of urgency that a game of this magnitude requires.
In the end, the Bangor High School girls rallied from a seven-point first-half deficit to build a 43-35 lead in the fourth quarter and then held on for dear life to eke out a 48-45 victory over archrival Brewer at the Bangor Auditorium Thursday night.
Bangor started the day in the eighth and final tournament spot but was just three Heal points ahead of 10th-place Brewer.
Bangor wound up 12-6 thanks to four straight wins and seven victories in its last eight games.
Brewer, which had won three of its previous four, finished at 10-8.
“It was a grind but our whole season has been a grind,” said Bangor senior Hillary Throckmorton, who had a team-high 13 points, seven rebounds and three assists. “We’re used to it. Our confidence has gone up a lot. We’ve had to win every game (down the stretch) and everyone has stepped it up.”
“This feels great. Our kids have come a long way this year,” said Bangor first-year coach Katie (Clark) Herbine. “It was a tough game. It was a physical game. Both teams played extremely hard. Brewer has a good team. You could tell their kids wanted it, (too). They forced us into turnovers and bad shots.”
Kate Treadwell took a Throckmorton pass and hit a short turnaround jumper with 5:40 left to give Bangor its second eight-point lead.
But that would be the Rams’ last basket as the smaller and quicker Witches forced a number of turnovers and hurried shots as they had all night. They also battled tenaciously under the boards.
Brewer went on a 6-1 run to cut the lead to 44-41 with 2:17 left.
Throckmorton hit a pair of free throws with 55.9 seconds left to make it 46-41 but an unattended Holly Nickerson took a Morgan Small pass in the left corner and nailed a three-pointer with 44 seconds left.
Rylee Hutchins made one of two free throws with 35 seconds left to pull the Witches within one.
The Witches had several chances to take the lead but couldn’t convert.
The Rams were still clinging to their one-point lead when they were called for a foul as they inbounded the ball with four seconds left.
Nickerson missed the first free throw and a lane violation negated the second attempt.
Kim Jordan was fouled after receiving the inbounds pass and sank two free throws with 2.8 seconds left to ice it.
Jordan wound up with seven points and seven rebounds and Marissa Grandchamp had seven rebounds.
Caroline Hetterman played a pivotal role as she came off the bench and scored 10 important points including a three-pointer the first time she touched the ball late in the first period.
She hit a foul line jumper and a three-pointer to close out the third quarter and give Bangor a 37-33 lead it would never relinquish.
“Everyone was passing so well and I was open so I shot and, luckily, they went in,” said Hetterman.
Freshman Maddy Bailey poured in a game-high 14 points for Brewer. Faith Thomas scored 11 while Nickerson and Morgan Small contributed eight and seven, respectively.
Six-foot-two junior Treadwell keyed a 6-2 run to open the fourth quarter by feeding Throckmorton for a short jumper, converting an offensive rebound and scoring off the Throckmorton pass with 5:40 left.
“I knew I needed to have a quick first step because a lot of their players are faster than me. But I knew my size would help me,” said Treadwell, who had a game-high eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my kids,” said Brewer coach Andy Nickerson. “This is the best group of kids I’ve ever coached. Player for player, we probably gave up (an average of) four inches and 30 pounds. But our kids have always given us their best and tonight was no different. We just came up a few points short.”