BANGOR, Maine — Defense and balanced scoring powered the Washburn Beavers to their third straight Class D girls basketball state championship with a 75-55 victory over Richmond at the Bangor Auditorium on Saturday afternoon.
The win capped a perfect season for Washburn, and sophomore guard Mackenzie Worcester punctuated the Beavers’ offensive display by posting her 1,000th career point in the final day of high school basketball at the longtime Bangor landmark.
The Auditorium will be torn down later this year, and the tournaments will move to the new Cross Insurance Center next door starting in 2014.
Worcester had kept quiet the fact that she was close to 1,000 points, even from her teammates.
“I didn’t want a whole bunch of people on my team to know because I didn’t want it to affect the way we played as a team,” said Worcester, who entered the game having scored 987 points. “I wanted them to take their shot if they had it.”
Junior forward Carsyn Koch and sophomore guard Joan Overman paced the early Washburn scoring with five points each as the Beavers jumped to a 14-2 lead.
The 5-foot-8-inch Overman, who came back from shoulder surgery in January, helped set the tone by mixing it up inside with the Bobcats’ 6-foot senior center Jamie Plummer and 5-10 senior forward Ciarra Lancaster.
“This team, we definitely had trouble getting rebounds,” said Overman of the Bobcats. “They’re very physical and I found myself on the floor a lot.”
Washburn pressured Richmond into 41 turnovers during the game and the Beavers (22-0) used some of those to shut off three rallies by the Western Maine champion Bobcats (17-4), who the Beavers have beaten for each of their last three titles.
“Richmond really gave us a run for our money,” said first-year Washburn coach Diana Trams. “They played us tougher than probably any team this year.”
Worcester and Nicole Olson were the leaders in the second quarter with six points apiece as the Beavers pushed their lead to 15 at halftime, 36-21.
Richmond coach Molly Bishop kept her team fired up, though.
“We were not out of it,” she said. “Fifteen points, as we started to show at the start of the second half, isn’t an unachievable [margin].”
Washburn’s lead was still 40-25 with 5:40 left in the third when Plummer sandwiched two hoops around a Lancaster 3-pointer in 36 seconds to cut the difference to 40-32.
Worcester stopped that run with a conventional three-point play with 4:15 remaining in the quarter.
“I think they came out [after halftime] wanting it and we were too comfortable with our lead. We settled in a little too much,” said Worcester.
Worcester’s 1,000th point came on that free throw. The first time most people found out she had reached 1,000 was when the game was stopped to note the milestone. She finished the game with 1,007 points.
The three points by Worcester triggered an 11-0 run that widened the difference to 19 points, the biggest margin until the final score.
“I wasn’t worried,” said Worcester of the Richmond rallies. “I knew after our timeouts, we’d settle back into our flow of the game.”
Richmond made one more run in the fourth quarter, a 9-0 stretch capped by a 3 and a field goal from Lancaster, and trimmed Washburn’s edge to 60-50 with 4:06 to go.
Two Overman free throws, 3 of 4 by Worcester and two from Koch halted that rally, the last by the Bobcats.
“It was going to take a little bit of luck and a little more of everything before we were going to be able to stop them as effectively as we needed to do in order to win the game,” said Bishop.
Worcester finished as the top scorer for Eastern Maine champ Washburn with 20 points, closely followed by junior guard Carmen Bragg with 16 points and junior forward Nicole Olson with 14. Overman added nine points.
Plummer paced the Bobcats, especially in the second half, by recording a game-high 22 points, Lancaster put up 14 and freshman forward Kelsea Anair had eight.
Trams was relieved that the Beavers earned the title again because their fans had high hopes for the team.
“It’s difficult,” she said, “especially when the expectation is that you should win.”