BANGOR — Typically when a key player fouls out and her team is staring at a big deficit, it spells disaster.
But when Washburn senior Rebecca Campbell was forced to the bench with her fifth foul and her Beavers trailing Deer Isle-Stonington by double digits in the third quarter Saturday, freshman sparkplug Carsyn Koch was thrust onto one of the biggest basketball stages of her young life.
Koch and classmates Carmen Bragg and Nicole Olson ignited the Beavers’ fire big-time, as Washburn rallied from a 14-point deficit to claim its first Eastern Maine Class D title since 1989 with a 50-43 victory over the Mariners at the Bangor Auditorium.
“There’s different aspects of each of us that bring different things to the game” said Koch, who scored six of her seven points in the second half. “I’ve got to bring my speed.”
She certainly brought it to help coach Mike Carlos’ top-ranked Beavers (19-2) move on to face Richmond in Saturday’s 1:05 p.m. state championship game in Bangor.
Richmond beat Valley of Bingham 42-38 in the Western Maine final.
No. 6 Deer Isle-Stonington finishes the season 18-3.
Nothing was going the Beavers’ way for the first two and a half quarters, particularly when 5-foot-9 senior Campbell fouled out midway through the third.
But things got interesting when Washburn erased a 34-17 deficit with a 17-2 run which ended when Olson kissed an off-balance 3-pointer off the glass which got the Beavers’ fans back into it.
“That shot really shocked everybody,” said Olson, one of three Beavers in double figures with 11 points, all in the second half.
Bragg had 12 points to lead Washburn while Campbell finished with 11.
Britnie Jones led all scorers with 15 points for the Mariners while Janelle Ciomei added 10.
The Mariners appeared to be plotting a course toward their first regional crown since 1987, as Jones scored 12 first-half points to help coach Darren Eaton’s club take a 24-15 lead at the break.
But Carlos figured his team’s quickness would eventually wear down the Mariners, and the closer the Beavers got, the more pressure they put on in forcing 27 total turnovers.
However, it was Washburn’s depth that ultimately got the job done.
“We had a couple players in foul trouble, they had their players in foul trouble, the players that I was able to put in the game were able to do the job that they needed to do,” said Carlos, whose club finished the game with three freshmen on the court.
Washburn finally tied it at 37 on a perimeter shot by Olson from the left wing, and a follow-up basket and two free throws from Rayah Saucier gave the Beavers their first lead at 41-39 with 3:51 to go.
A free throw apiece by Holly Brewer and Abby Grindle allowed the Mariners to tie it at 41 with 2:51 left, but Bragg came down and drilled a 3-pointer with 2:25 left, and the Mariners never tied it again.
“I think we let our emotions get the best of us a little bit (in the first half), but after halftime we came out, we didn’t quit, and we played tough until the end,” Bragg said. “Now we’re going for the gold ball.”
The Mariners spent most of their energy trying to beat Washburn’s press in the last quarter and a half, and DI-S failed to convert a field goal over that span.
“We ran out of gas, we kind of had that sinking ship feeling,” said Eaton. “We got complacent I think after the Campbell girl fouled out in the third quarter.”
The win was especially sweet for Washburn seniors Campbell and Sara Sjoberg, who were freshmen when the Beavers, a top seed that season, were upset by Katahdin in the quarterfinals.
“This is great, this is something I’ve dreamed about,” said Sjoberg, who gathered eight rebounds, blocked three shots and had three steals.
Bragg also had three steals while Koch had four second-half rebounds for Washburn.