BANGOR, Maine — It was a Tuesday afternoon at the Eastern Maine high school basketball quarterfinals when the 1-8 game played out like a 4-5 matchup while the 4-5 clash played out like a 1-8 game.
And it ended with a stunning result as Samantha Keegan picked up a loose ball and banked in a short jumper with 3.8 seconds remaining as No. 8 Houlton upset top-ranked Orono 45-44 in their Class C girls quarterfinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
“That was the luckiest shot in my life,” said Keegan, a sophomore forward. “I just chucked it up there. I didn’t even look at the basket, I didn’t know where it was at all. Luckily it went in.”
The win advances the 14-6 Shiretowners to a Friday night semifinal matchup against No. 4 Stearns of Millinocket, a 46-24 winner over No. 5 Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln behind a 21-point, 13-rebound, five-assist, four-steal performance by junior guard Sigrid Koizar.
Orono (15-4) trailed by as many as six points in the second half but rallied behind junior center Jillian Woodward, who returned from foul trouble to score 11 fourth-quarter points.
Houlton maintained a slight edge for much of the fourth quarter by making 8 of 10 free-throw attempts, but the Red Riots took their first lead since early in the second quarter on a basket by Woodward with 52 seconds left, then got the ball back after a Houlton turnover.
But Houlton’s Amanda Fogarty forced a held ball to give the Shiretowners possession, and teammate Marina Cameron scored from the lane with 22 seconds left to give Houlton a 43-42 edge.
Woodward made two free throws with 13.4 seconds left to give Orono back the lead, but Houlton had one last opportunity.
Tori Hanson’s shot from the lane was blocked, but Keegan grabbed the loose ball and with time winding down scored the game-winner.
“I knew there wasn’t much time,” said Keegan. “There was probably about three seconds left so I just chucked it up and banked it in.”
Orono had one last chance, but a contested 3-point try by Laura Triandafillou fell short.
Fogarty, a senior who had made three previous tournament trips to Bangor only to be ousted in the quarterfinals, led Houlton with 19 points, 14 in the first half to help stake coach Shawn Graham’s club to a 20-17 lead.
“It was crucial to get an early lead,” said Fogarty. “At Bangor the nerves kick in and you have to play through it. I think we held together. When we come out strong we stay strong and that’s what we did today.”
Cameron added 10 points and Hanson scored nine for Houlton while Keegan finished with five points and 12 rebounds as the Shiretowners finished with a 35-25 advantage on the boards.
Woodward finished with 17 points and nine rebounds for Orono, while Kate Berry added eight points for the Red Riots.
In the earlier game, Stearns went on a 25-2 run midway through the game to improve its record to 17-2 with its third victory of the season over Mattanawcook.
“We just covered their high-low pass so they couldn’t score a lot, and we were more aggressive on offense,” said Koizar of the surge from a two-point deficit.
Koizar, an exchange student who played with the Austrian national 18-and-under team last summer, shot 8 of 13 from the field and 5 of 5 from the free-throw line while also working to free up her teammates for open shots.
“Today, believe it or not, was one of her more selfish days, which doesn’t hurt us a bit,” said Stearns coach Justin Page. “Sig is a very good teammate,and a very good all-around player. She gets rebounds. She hustles on the floor. When she gets knocked down she gets right back up.
“She also plays with a lot of heart along with having a lot of talent. She’s going to go somewhere with that.”
Alex Mooney, a junior guard, capitalized on Koizar’s playmaking skills, hitting three 3-pointers and scoring 12 points overall.
Mattanawcook held an 11-9 lead after Harli Maxwell made a layup 22 seconds into the second quarter, but Stearns scored 12 unanswered points to build a 21-11 lead, and that run grew to 25-2 by midway through the third quarter when Koizar hit a jumper and a drive on back-to-back possessions to give the Minutemen a 34-13 cushion.
“Siggy would never admit it, of course, but her takes to the basket were really what changed the game,” said Mooney. “Instead of her dumping it down all the time she went up with it. They were double- and triple-teaming her and she still took it to the hole.”
The Minutemen used a 2-3 zone to limit the Lynx to 17 percent (8 of 48) shooting from the field.
“What we were trying to do on defense was cover [Taylor] Blood and [Taylor] Hawkins because they’re both over 6 feet,” said Mooney. “We doubled down on them in our zone and then also tried to get out on their shooters.”
Ashley Rollins added eight points and 10 rebounds for Stearns.
Hawkins scored 10 points and Katie Krapf eight for Mattanawcook.