BANGOR, Maine — True to form, the fifth-seeded Mount Desert Island girls basketball team proved to be the only team to test the top-seeded and undefeated Presque Isle High School girls again on Wednesday afternoon.
Defending state Class B champion Presque Isle, which had beaten everybody by at least 29 points during the regular season except MDI (55-46, 54-40), had to rely on a 13-0 run in the fourth quarter to erase a three-point deficit and beat the Trojans 62-48 in their Eastern Maine Class B semifinal at the Bangor Auditorium.
Presque Isle, 20-0, will take on third-seeded Nokomis of Newport, 18-2, in Saturday’s 2:05 p.m. EM championship game. It is a rematch of last year’s regional final won by Presque Isle 52-40. MDI wound up 18-3.
Nokomis advanced with a 45-40 victory over Camden Hills in the afternoon’s first game.
In the second game, Presque Isle senior guard Megan Ireland had a game-high 24 points, including a pair of 3-pointers during the 13-0 run, to go with a game-leading six steals; sophomore forward Hannah Graham contributed 16 points; and senior guard Chandler Guerrette had 11 points, eight rebounds and a game-high seven assists.
Junior forward Hannah Shaw had 14 points, a game-high 12 rebounds and three steals for MDI and sophomore guard Sarah Phelps chipped in with 13 points, four assists and two steals and freshman forward Kelsey Shaw had five points and 10 rebounds..
Guerrette had a 3-pointer and four of her assists during the decisive run that gave PI a 52-42 lead with 3:10 left.
“We didn’t want our season to end. We had to gut it out,” said Guerrette who fed Ireland for her two three-pointers from the left flank and twice dumped the ball inside to Krystal Kingsbury, who converted on both occasions.
After freshman Kelsey Shaw scored off an offensive rebound to snap the 13-point run, Guerrette fed Ireland for another three.
“I couldn’t really get to the basket because (MDI) collapsed so much. (Ireland) was wide open because they were all sinking in. (Ireland) was feeling it,” said Guerrette.
“They made great passes to me and when I’m open like that, I just shoot it,” said Ireland.
“Ireland played real well,” said MDI’s Shaw.
Presque Isle coach Jeff Hudson credited assistant Ralph Michaud with suggesting that they switch from a man-to-man to a 2-3 zone for the first time this season in the fourth quarter and it paid off as it limited MDI’s ability to feed Shaw for back-door cuts to the basket.
“That kind of threw us off a little bit. That was good defense,” said Shaw . “But we played as hard as we could for 32 minutes. We left everything out there.”
“Once they hit a couple of shots, they gained a lot of confidence and were able to build on that,” said MDI coach Brent Barker.
In the first game, it took all four quarters, but the Nokomis Warriors survived Camden Hills’ upset attempt.
“We played pretty good defense for over three quarters,” said Camden Hills coach Marty Messer. “We tried to take away the paint, but unfortunately the shots we were giving up the first three quarters started dropping for Nokomis.”
Third-seeded Nokomis is now 18-2 while seventh-ranked Camden Hills finished at 14-7.
Camden Hills jumped out to a first-quarter lead behind Ms. Maine Basketball semifinalist Jordan Knowlton. Knowlton scored 10 of Camden Hills’ 16 first-quarter points as the Windjammers held the 16-12 lead.
Nokomis turned up the defensive pressure in the second quarter, allowing only five points while taking a slim, one-point lead into the break, 22-21 despite shooting 7-of-27 from the floor in the half.
“If we miss a couple shots, we get down on ourselves,” said Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis. “I told our team to calm down, some things will go our way.”
The game remained close in the third period, as Camden Hills was able to tie it up on the back of Knowlton, who scored 10 points in the quarter. Knowlton finished with a game-high 29 points, yet had little help, as the next high scorer for the Windjammers, Bekah Hilt, finished with four points.
Nokomis gained some breathing room in the fourth quarter, thanks to a huge 3-pointer by Kylie Richards. Richards had been 0-of-5 in the game up to that point and 0-of-4 from beyond the arc before hitting the momentum-changing 3-pointer.
“That was the first thing I said in the locker room. Kylie’s shot — I don’t know how many times she missed — but still had the cajonesto shoot the ball and have confidence to make it,” Paradis said.
Camden Hills had a couple chances to keep the game close in the latter minutes, but untimely turnovers contributed to Nokomis’ victory.
“We had some critical turnovers at the end, but I’m proud of the girls,” Messer said.
Anna Mackenzie led the Warriors in scoring with 10 points, while both Taylor Shaw and Lindsay Whitney chipped in with nine points.
Sportswriter Jesse Scardina contributed to this report.