BANGOR — There’s no shortage of pressure in the Eastern Maine tournament, and both of Saturday night’s Class D girls quarterfinal games illustrated how directly that factor can affect an outcome.
In Saturday’s early game, a veteran Deer Isle-Stonington squad with tourney experience handled the pressure much better down the stretch of a tight game and pulled out a 42-36 upset over No. 3 Schenck of East Millinocket.
In the the late game, No. 2 Central Aroostook of Mars Hill used a harassing half-court press to force Shead of Eastport into 32 turnovers en route to a 74-38 victory at the Bangor Auditorium.
“Their pressure defense was real effective and their press bothered the heck out of us,” said Sara (Ricker) Moore, a former star player for the Tigers now finishing her third season as Shead’s head coach.
Meanwhile, the Panthers of Mars Hill committed only 11 turnovers in a game they never trailed and basically put away with an 18-0 scoring run lasting the last five minutes of the first quarter and the first 90 seconds of the second.
“To be honest with you, I didn’t think our 2-3 zone defense was working that well,” said CAHS coach Rodney Codrey, whose Panthers will take a 15-4 record into Thursday’s 2 p.m. semifinal game against the 17-2 Mariners. “I am happy with the job we did on the boards.”
The Panthers outrebounded Shead 30-25 overall, but 16-6 on the offensive boards.
Leading the charge inside was senior forward Kristen Long, who finished with 13 points, 12 rebounds and five steals.
Victoria McIntyre led the team with 28 points, nine rebounds and three assists while Rachael Grew had 19 points for the Panthers.
Kirby McPhail led the 11-8 Tigers with nine points and two assists. Vanessa Patterson had six points and five rebounds.
In the early game, neither team led by more than seven points in a tense contest that the Mariners pulled out with clutch foul shooting and rebounding.
The Mariners used an 11-0 scoring run to turn a two-point deficit into a lead they wouldn’t give up over the final five minutes — when the Mariners hit all four of their free throws and the Wolverines hit only three of eight.
That would have been tough enough to overcome, but Deer Isle-Stonington was also dominating the boards 37-18 overall, 19-3 offensively.
“They pounded us on the boards and you could tell they’d been here before. The free throws proved that,” said Schenck coach Darrick Thompson, whose team winds up 13-6. “We’re not that bad a free-throw shooting team, but tonight we looked like a team with three freshmen on the floor.”
Tourney nerves were apparent as the Mariners dictated the game’s pace throughout.
“The big kids inside did their jobs and we executed our half-court game very well with our size advantage,” said Mariners coach Darren Eaton. “We got a lot of second and third shots.”
Britnie Jones helped lead the Mariners with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Schenck made a late run, closing the gap to three (38-35) with 41 seconds left, but the Mariners took care of the ball and forced the Wolverines to foul.
“This was our second time playing here, so we settled down and kept our composure very well when they had a couple runs,” said Jones. “We’ve been working on foul shots a lot in practice. We knew that would be a key factor.”
Chelsea Brown was another big contributor inside with eight points and nine boards.
“For the most part, we did what we wanted to inside and pretty much kept them to one and done on the other end,” said Brown.
Janelle Ciomei scored 12 points and had four steals while Heidi Brewer finished with six rebounds and five steals.
The Wolverines scored just two points in the second quarter on 1-for-8 shooting from the field to go into halftime down 19-13.