AUGUSTA, Maine — Mackenzie Worcester knew she wasn’t taking enough shots early in Saturday’s Class D state championship basketball game, and that’s when the Washburn freshman was issued a challenge from coach Mike Carlos.
“I said to her, you’re not scoring enough,” Carlos said. “I don’t know how many coaches tell their kids that, but I surely [told] my kid that.”
Even though she’s only a freshman, Worcester responded to her coach’s challenge, pouring in a game-high 24 points as the Beavers stampeded to their second consecutive state title with a 60-35 win over Richmond at the Augusta Civic Center.
Worcester, who shot 8-for-17 from the field and also fueled the Beavers’ defense with four steals, was a tad apprehensive early in the game, but the way she was shooting in the spacious Civic Center, who could tell?
“It has a little bit more of a depth perception, but I don’t really focus on that,” said Worcester, noting the larger difference in Augusta’s shooting background compared to the Bangor Auditorium.
“[The basket] is still the same height,” she added.
Washburn capped off a 21-1 season while Richmond finished 19-2.
The Beavers had some trouble establishing a flow early on, particularly after top defender and fast-break specialist Carsyn Koch picked up three first-quarter fouls, which made the hair on Carlos’ head a little more gray.
“Carsyn’s a real big key,” he said, “but once I saw Joanie could handle the Plummer girl, then I wasn’t nearly as worried.”
Joanie is freshman guard Joan Overman, who came in off the bench to give the Beavers’ backcourt a spark, and she, Worcester, Olivia Doody and Carmen Bragg collaborated to keep Richmond 6-footer Jamie Plummer in check.
“I knew that we had subs off the bench that could pick it up,” said Worcester, who scored Washburn’s first seven first-quarter points after the Beavers fell behind 5-0 early.
Washburn slowly started to take control in the second quarter, leading by as many as nine and taking a seven-point lead into the locker room, while the Beavers held Plummer to seven first-half points, forcing her into hurried shots down low.
“We started taking shots that we maybe didn’t need to take,” Richmond coach Molly Bishop said.
With Koch on the bench most of the contest — she picked up her fourth foul in the third quarter — the Beavers were taken out of their fast-break game, but it didn’t matter thanks to the shooting of Worcester and inside presence of Doody (12 points).
“I really don’t worry about going down,” Carlos said when asked if he was concerned about trailing early. “It’s always a battle of attrition. I feel we’re going to wear them down after a while.”
The Beavers were able to stretch their lead to 43-31 after three quarters thanks to their aggressive play and free-throw shooting, as Washburn hit all nine of its foul shots in the period.
The fatigued Bobcats couldn’t keep up in the fourth, as the Beavers held them to one field goal over the final eight minutes and ran away with the game.
Overman was also strong on the boards for Washburn, gathering six rebounds while Worcester had seven boards.
“Carsyn didn’t play nearly as much as we’d like to see her play or as she would’ve like to had played, but everybody else did their job and stepped up,” Carlos said.
Plummer did have 14 points and 16 rebounds for Richmond, but she had to work hard for most of them, and the junior center also missed her first eight shots.
She was the only Bobcat in double figures.