EAST MILLINOCKET, Maine — Olivia Lewis’ layup with 22.5 seconds remaining gave the Schenck High School girls basketball team its final lead of the game, but the undefeated Wolverines had to fend off a gritty Houlton squad for a 47-46 victory Thursday night at Margaret H. Gillis Gymnasium.
“I was just hoping to make the shot,” said Lewis, a 5-foot-8 junior forward.
The play began with the game tied at 45-all.
Schenck (5-0 in Eastern Maine Class D) worked the ball around the outside until Kristin Thompson shook loose her defender, took a pass from Morgan Thompson and cut to the lane.
Kristin Thompson drew the Houlton defenders out, leaving Lewis open on the low block on the left side. Lewis jumped into the lane ahead of the defenders and tossed in the winning layup.
“When I did make it, it was like a big relief,” said Lewis.
The Wolverines still had to hold off Houlton (2-3 in Eastern C) for the final seconds, but it wasn’t easy.
Morgan Thompson, Schenck’s leader, tried to stop Houlton’s Katie Condon drive to the basket and was called for her fifth foul with 3.5 seconds to go.
“It was very heartbreaking for me [to foul out],” said junior center Morgan Thompson. “I did not want to sit out if it went to overtime.”
Condon hit the first of her two free throws, but the second one caromed off to Kristin Thompson, who clung tightly to the rebound until she was fouled with 0.7 seconds on the clock. Thompson missed the first, then purposely missed the second in order to start the clock.
“It’s not that tough for me [to miss],” said Kristin Thompson with a smile. “When you have to miss, it’s tough.”
She had a plan for it.
“I wanted to brick it off the back,” she said. “I knew if I tried to hit the front rim, it would probably be an air ball.”
In that case, Houlton would get the ball and the clock would not start.
Condon grabbed the rebound, which Schenck did not contest in order to avoid fouling. She had no chance of getting down the floor in time, though. Her 3-point heave from three-quarter-court fell well short.
Morgan Thompson finished with a game-high 18 points for the Wolverines, Katie Stanley posted 11 and Kristin Thompson had seven.
Marina Cameron led Houlton with 14 points, Condon added 10 and Tori Hanson had nine.
The Wolverines had jumped out to a 19-3 first-quarter lead.
“That’s about what I expected,” said Schenck coach Darrick Thompson. “We hit a lot of teams with that early, but most of them don’t come back.
The Shiretowners did and tied the game at 24-24 just 10 seconds into the third quarter.
“We’ve had trouble of late with slow starts of late,” said Houlton coach Shawn Graham. “Then we’re exerting a lot of energy getting back into the game.”
A pair of baskets by Kristin Thompson and one each by Stanley, Morgan Thompson and Ashley Leavitt sandwiched a hoop by Houlton’s Natalie Hill and a free throw by the Shires’ Marina Cameron to put Schenck back up by seven with 2:22 left in the third.
Houlton didn’t stop, though, and a 9-0 run gave the visitors a 36-34 lead 10 seconds into the final quarter.
A series of short runs by each team left them tied again at 43 with 1:39 to go.
Stanley hit two free throws with 1:20 to go to put the Wolverines up two, and Hanson matched those points with 40 seconds left after rebounding Hill’s missed layup following a steal.
Then came Lewis’ layup.
“Her confidence broke out in the last game,” said Morgan Thompson. “She pulled through for us [Thursday].”
Lewis said the Wolverines’ coach prepared them for just such a contest.
“He prepares us for bad things, so we’re not bothered when they do happen,” said Morgan Thompson.
“We kind of panicked [during Houlton’s comeback],” admitted Lewis.
Darrick Thompson was happy his team kept on fighting.
“A lot of teams would have lost this game,” he said. “These girls hung in.”