BANGOR, Maine — Waynflete of Portland was down a dozen points to Calais at halftime of the Class C girls basketball state championship game Saturday night, but Flyers coach Brian Salway did not let them think the game was over.
“I just told them they were getting beaten in every phase of the game in the first half and they needed to play harder and do the little things,” he said.
The Flyers’ inspiration was sitting with them at the end of the bench. Sophomore forward Juliana Harwood, a starter for the Flyers tore the ACL in her right knee in last week’s Western Maine final and could not play Saturday.
“We were not going to go out there and not put everything into that game knowing she’s sitting on the bench and knowing she wants to be out there so bad,” said ace Flyer Martha Veroneau.
Veroneau put on a one-girl clinic in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 of her game-high 34 points as Waynflete rallied to defeat Calais 59-55 for the state title Saturday night at the Bangor Auditorium.
It was the last girls basketball tournament game to be played in the auditorium before the Bangor institution is torn down later this year. Next year’s tournament action will be held at the Cross Insurance Center next door.
The 20-3 Flyers soared in the final quarter, scoring the first 10 points and taking their first lead (46-44) with 4:09 remaining.
Senior guard Rhiannon Jackson opened the run by making the second of two free throws, then Veroneau drilled a 3-pointer. Jackson added a conventional three-point play 22 seconds later to bring the Flyers within one.
A second 3 by Veroneau boosted Waynflete in front by two until Calais junior center Paige Gillespie made back-to-back baskets to put the Blue Devils ahead again, briefly.
Veroneau hit both ends of a one-and-one and followed with two more hoops to put Waynflete up 52-48 with 1:45 left.
Calais (21-1) would get close but could not catch the Flyers the rest of the way.
The Blue Devils had to start fouling to try to get the ball back, but Veroneau made seven of eight free throws to close out the Flyers’ scoring.
The last two sealed the outcome with 0.1 seconds after Calais senior guard Maddy McVicar hit a 3 with 3.8 seconds left to cut the Devils’ deficit to two.
“The first half, they were incredible,” said Veroneau of the Blue Devils. “We were kind of in awe of how good they were.”
Waynflete revived its own confidence, though, and came out hard in the second half.
“They’re a great team, but we realized we could stick with them,” said Veroneau. “We’re a great team, too.”
The first objective for the Flyers was to contain Calais sophomore point guard Maddy McVicar.
“She’s so crafty off the dribble and she’s so quick,” said Veroneau.
“If we wanted to contain her, we had to trap her,” said Salway. “Make her go east and west and pick up her dribble rather than north and south.”
Calais coach Dana Redding could see the problem, but the Blue Devils weren’t always able to stop it.
“She was picking it up in places she shouldn’t have been,” he said. “We were trying to get somebody to flash in the middle, get to the middle and break off.”
Waynflete, playing tight pressure defense, prevented that.
“The pressure got to us, I think,” said Redding. “Whether we were tired or not, we weren’t coming to the ball; the 50-50 balls, they were beating us to those and we missed some foul shots.”
Calais finished the game 5 for 16 from the line compared to Waynflete’s 16 for 26.
Salway had plenty to worry about, too. Two players — starting guards Helen Gray-Bauer and Catherine Veroneau (Martha’s twin sister) — fouled out and Martha Veroneau picked up her fourth with 4:36 remaining.
Salway told Martha Veroneau to play smart and avoid situations where she would also foul out.
She played clean and scored her team’s final 16 points.
“Martha took over and showed everybody what she’s made of,” Salway said.
Jackson chipped in with 17 points. Only four Flyers were able to crack the scoring column.
Junior forward Taylorae Carter topped the Calais scorers with 11 points, McVicar contributed nine, and senior forward Sierra Young and Gillespie had eight each.