BANGOR, Maine — Senior forward Katie Brochu and junior guard Denae Johnson were key components as Bangor rolled over Erskine Academy for a 66-39 girls basketball victory Friday night at Red Barry Gym.
Brochu scored a game-high 22 points, and Johnson provided an aggressive spark on the boards and to break the press of the Eagles of South China.
The 6-foot Brochu and 6-2 freshman forwards Mary Butler and Cordelia Stewart gave the Rams a huge height advantage over Erskine, whose tallest players are 5-11 Bridget Humphrey and 5-10 Ashlee Crowell-Smith, and Bangor planned to make the most of it.
“The big difference tonight, compared to some of our other games, is we made some shots inside early,” said Bangor coach Katie Herbine. “That put our confidence level on the rise.”
Brochu scored six points in the first quarter, including the first two points of the game on a layup 21 seconds into the game. That was the first of five Bangor layups in the opening quarter.
Johnson said that the Rams (5-5) had been practicing them more recently and it paid off.
“When we practice layups now, if you miss you have to run after it,” said a smiling Johnson, who finished with eight points. “So it’s important to make them.”
Layups and short jumpers pushed Bangor out to a 10-1 lead, and layups by Johnson and Jordan Seekins sandwiched around a short jumper by Brochu transformed a 12-7 lead to 18-7 at the end of the first quarter.
“I was very disappointed in our effort on defense,” said Erskine coach Scott Corey.
The Eagles (1-9) tried to press on Bangor’s inbounds plays while also guarding against Bangor lobbing the ball to their forwards underneath the basket.
Bangor overcame the press by passing.
“Coach wants us to pass more because we can get it up the court faster,” said Johnson, who had to drive through the press more later.
“They started doubling the ball at the end and we couldn’t [pass] it.,” said Johnson.
Once over half-court, the Eagles dropped into a zone.
“They started in a 2-3 [zone defense],” said Herbine. “We moved the ball outside and shot well from out there, that opened the floor up and made it easier to go back inside.
“When you can move the ball, it’s hard to play zone.”
“Everybody tries to play zone against us because we’re so tall, and we need to finish our shots,” said Johnson.
The Rams did and Corey quickly scrapped the zone, but it didn’t make much difference.
Six points in the second quarter by Brochu and 10 in the third quarter to round out her scoring pushed the Rams to a 49-25 lead after three quarters.
Humphrey tried to get Erskine fired up, but she had difficulty getting her shots off and seldom had any kind of opening.
If the shorter Eagles tried to drive the baseline, they discovered the Rams’ long arms blocking them.
Bangor ended up 31 for 57 from the floor for the night, while holding Erskine to an 11-for-54 performance.
Brochu was feeling better and better rested after fighting an illness recently. She was 11-for-17 from the floor.
“I missed four days of school and at least four practices,” she said. “It was some kind of stomach bug.”
Meryl Bond, on the strength of two 3-pointers, was Erskine’s top scorer in the game with 16 points, and Bridget Humphrey added eight.
Kayla Snow also had eight points for Bangor, Stewart seven and Butler six.
Corey thought his team had been making progress, even though it wasn’t reflected in the Eagles’ record. Friday’s performance had him upset.
“[Bangor] came out and stuck it down our throat,” said Corey, “and we played like we didn’t want to get killed. It’s as simple as that.”