BANGOR, Maine — The undefeated Presque Isle Wildcats took their game outside Saturday afternoon and rolled to a 75-26 Eastern Maine Class B girls basketball quarterfinal win over Ellsworth at the Bangor Auditorium.
The top-seeded Wildcats, 19-0 and the defending state champions, will take on No. 5 Mount Desert Island of Bar Harbor in the semifinals at 3:35 p.m. Wednesday.
Sophomore guard Molly Carroll came off the bench to spark MDI past No. 13 Winslow 38-31 on Saturday morning.
In the afternoon contest, the Eagles (12-8) packed the inside to cut off PI’s offense underneath, so the Wildcats looked for open space outside.
Presque Isle connected on five 3-pointers in the opening quarter and and took that cue to keep on shooting.
The Wildcats made 10 3-pointers in the game with senior forward Karlee Bernier hitting four of them and senior guards Megan Ireland and Chandler Guerrette adding two each.
“With a lot of teams, our 3-point shooters are closely guarded,” said Bernier. “[The Eagles] were guarding inside, so that opened up a lot of opportunities.”
And the Wildcats don’t wait for a lot of space.
“If we get the slightest opportunity, we put them up there,” said Bernier.
The five 3s helped Presque Isle take a 26-6 lead after one quarter, and the Eagles were never able to make a dent in that margin.
“We’ve been waiting for the 3-point game to come. Today, it came,” said PI coach Jeff Hudson.
Guerrette finished with a game-high 17 points, and Bernier and Ireland added 12 apiece.
Hudson was just as happy to see his team’s defensive plan work.
“We knew going in we had to stop the Cards and I think we did a good job,” said Hudson. “The key to the game was to limit those guys.”
Freshman guard Maddy Card led Ellsworth but was held to seven points, and junior forward Morgan Card had two points on 1-for-7 shooting from the floor. Hailee Langley and Taylor White posted six points apiece.
In the morning game, Carroll’s key points came while the Black Raiders were challenging MDI for the lead.
With the Trojans up 27-24, Carroll stepped in front of a Winslow pass into the frontcourt. Carroll controlled the steal and raced from just beyond half-court into the open for a layup that gave MDI some breathing space with 3:06 left in the game.
“I just saw the lane and went for it,” said Carroll. “It brought the whole team up.”
“I thought that Carroll did a great job,” said MDI coach Brent Barker. “I expect that; when someone struggles, someone steps up.”
Carroll was wearing a big smile after the game.
“That’s the most points I’ve ever scored,” said Carroll. “It feels good.”
The Trojans (17-2) spent most of the last two minutes standing at the free-throw line, and they converted nine of the last 12 attempts, including 3 of 4 by Carroll, to close out the win.
Emily Lewis posted nine points for MDI, and Hannah Shaw added eight.
Devin Fitzgibbons led Winslow (7-13) with 13 points, including eight in the final quarter. Five of them came in the final minute as she tried to lead another Raider comeback. Megan Richards had seven points.
Winslow was down 21-11 with 1:30 left in the first half when it kicked off a 13-4 run capped by a Fitzgibbons 3 early in the fourth quarter to cut MDI’s lead to a single point.
Shaw grabbed the rebound of a Carroll attempt and laid it in to push the lead to three.
Shortly afterward, the Trojans stalled the ball out high, trying to draw out the Raider defenders.
“We turned it into a three-minute game instead of a five-minute one,” said Barker. “I think that slowed ’em down.”
It was about 20 seconds later that Carroll picked off the pass and fired up the Trojans, who are playing in the semis for the first time in three years.
“It feels good, very good,” said Carroll. “The gold ball, that’s our goal.”
Hudson said he has confidence in his ’Cats, who drew their toughest test from MDI early in the season,.
“People have come at us all year. We’re ready,” Hudson said.