HERMON, Maine — Raychel Alley scored 11 of her game-high 25 points early in the third quarter to propel the Hermon Hawks to a 62-58 girls basketball victory over Lee Academy at the Hermon High gym Tuesday night.
The Pandas’ Jordan Maxwell scored the first five points of the third quarter to cut Hermon’s halftime lead to 33-29, and that’s when Alley caught fire.
She hit a 3-pointer from midway down the right side of the line with six minutes to go in the quarter, nailed another from high on the left side a minute later and drained a third with 4:25 left in the third.
“After a while, I started getting the touch,” said Alley, a junior guard.
Alley had struggled with her shooting in the first half, going 2-for-9 from the floor — both 3s.
“It was very frustrating,” said Alley, but things picked up after intermission.
“At the beginning of the second half, we started hitting shots, and that’s when we started getting motivated,” she said.
Alley added a 2-pointer with 4:08 to go in the third, and senior forward Brittney Hamlin added a two at the 3:30 mark to give the Hawks (1-1) a 46-29 edge.
The Pandas (0-2) worked their way back to cut the lead to three points a couple of times late in the fourth quarter but couldn’t quite catch the Hawks.
The first time was with 1:26 remaining in the game when 6-foot-3 center Khady Toure put back a rebound to cut the margin to 59-56.
That score held for almost a minute until Alley hit both ends of a one-and-one with 24.2 seconds left to push the Hawks’ lead back to five.
“I was really nervous,” admitted Alley. “I thought about it for a minute, then I put those nervous feelings behind me.
“I told myself this was for the team, and I had to do it.”
But six seconds later, Abbie Glidden hit two free throws for Lee to slice the lead to three again.
Toure fouled out with 4.5 seconds left when she was called for an intentional foul, and Hamlin hit one of two free throws to make Hermon’s lead four points.
Maxwell just missed stealing the ensuing inbounds pass, stepping out of bounds, and the Hawks were able to get the ball in the second time and run out the clock.
“We’re a young team [only one senior] and we made some young mistakes,” said Hermon coach Phil Robinson.
He was thankful that Alley got a hot hand when she did, complimented Hamlin and praised 6-1 junior center Gretchen Spencer.
“I thought Gretchen did a good job defending Toure,” said Robinson.
He also liked the way his Hawks played defense early.
“They did a good job boxing out in the first half, but I thought we lost focus in the fourth [quarter],” he said.
Toure scored five of her 20 points in the closing minutes on a conventional three-point play and a putback, both baskets coming off offensive rebounds.
Hamlin finished with 14 points for Hermon, and Jenna Crouse added seven.
Maxwell paced the Pandas with 21 points, Toure posted 20 and McKenzie Pelletier had 12.
Lee coach Candy Gifford saw some positives from the loss, especially since the team hadn’t been able to work on anything after Saturday’s loss to defending state champion Central of Corinth. Monday’s practice was canceled because of the weather, so they had to talk about their plans on the bus trip down.
“Every night you can come and gain confidence, do the little things well [it’s good],” said Gifford.
One of the things they had planned to do was go with a zone defense because they’re still getting used to each other.
“We had to adjust our zone,” said Gifford. “They started hitting from outside and we had to come out to get a hand in their faces.”
Gifford liked Pelletier’s spark in the fourth quarter as she stole passes and hit three field goals in the quarter.
“Pelletier stepped up and lit up the team,” said Gifford.