AUGUSTA, Maine — Bangor’s recent history in the Eastern Maine Class A girls basketball tournament has been one of frustration, but on Friday afternoon that may have begun to change.
Freshmen and sophomores accounted for 49 points and 26 rebounds as coach Katie Herbine’s second-ranked Rams pulled away in the second half to a 61-48 quarterfinal victory over No. 7 Skowhegan at the Augusta Civic Center.
“We just relaxed a little bit,” said Herbine, whose team had just a 29-25 halftime advantage before using its height and an aggressive man-to-man defense to take control. “We got the first half out of the way after the kids had some nerves in the locker room beforehand, we moved the ball better and we changed defenses and that helped us.”
Bangor (14-4) will face No. 3 Mount Ararat (16-3) in next Wednesday’s semifinals. Those teams did not meet during the regular season.
Cordelia Stewart, a 6-foot-2 sophomore center, led Bangor offensively with scored 17 points and grabbed nine nine rebounds, while 6-1 sophomore forward Mary Butler added added 16 points, 13 rebounds, six blocked shots and three steals.
“We had a lot better ball movement in the second half, and I think that our defense was a lot more intense,” said Butler. “And when our defense is intense and we’re able to switch it up it allows us to transition and run the floor.”
Bangor also got a big game from freshman guard Sarah Bragg, who came off the bench to score 16 points on 5 of 8 shooting from the field, including two 3-pointers.
“I haven’t been taking as many outside shots so my coach told me to just have confidence and shoot it,” said Bragg. “I had confidence, I just thought they were going in and they did.”
Bangor finished with a 35-16 rebounding domination over Skowhegan.
Skowhegan (9-9) hung within four points at intermission thanks to a 4-of-8 effort from beyond the 3-point arc, but Bangor switched from a zone defense to man to man and the Indians did not make another 3-pointer during the second half.
“We’ve struggled during the season to get out on 3-point shooters and now it’s clicking at the right time,” said Butler. “We struggled in the first half with it but in the second half we were able to contain them.”
Skowhegan hung within 47-38 early in the fourth period before Bangor scored nine unanswered points to put the game away.
Stewart worked inside for a three-point play, then senior guard Denae Johnson (eight points, five rebounds, three steals) scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to give Bangor a 52-38 cushion.
Butler converted another offensive rebound, and Johnson then scored off an assist from Stewart as Bangor pushed its lead out to a game-high 56-38 with 5:27 remaining.
Desiree Brochu led Skowhegan with 10 points.