ORONO, Maine — The Orono High School girls basketball team shot just 33 percent from the floor and 44.8 percent from the foul line against Bucksport on Saturday night. But the Red Riots stifling man-to-man defense enabled them to overcome their shooting woes and post a hard-fought 38-26 victory.
The Red Riots limited the Bucks to 31.4 percent shooting from the floor and forced 24 turnovers in improving their record to 6-0. They pressed very effectively and contested virtually every shot.
Sophomore point guard Hannah Clement had a game-high 10 points for the Red Riots and she also grabbed four rebounds, made three steals and ran the offense with impressive efficiency.
Junior forward Katie Sypher contributed seven points and a game-high 10 rebounds, junior guard Ana Eliza Souza Cunha had six points, three steals, three assists and two rebounds and junior forward Katie Smith chipped in with five points, five rebounds and two steals.
The Riots also received a valuable lift from their deep bench as Brinsley Chasse scored six points and pulled down three rebounds and Ally Gonyar had four rebounds and three points off the bench.
“Our defensive intensity really helps us win games,” said Clement. “We work a lot on our defense and on our conditioning and it definitely helps out a lot.”
“We work on being quick with our feet and not trying to stop the ball with our hands [which would result in fouls],” said Sypher who added that the defense fuels their transition offense.
“I thought our defense really kept us in it,” said Orono coach Jessica Witham. “We got some big stops when we needed them and got some steals which led to transition baskets. That was very helpful.”
Witham also said they were able to capitalize on their superior height by getting the ball inside and drawing fouls.
Deb Wight and Bri Bires each had six points to lead Bucksport (1-3). Wight had a team-high six rebounds and Bires made two steals. Aino Sihvo had five points and five rebounds, Taylor Staples had four points and Kim Nason had five rebounds and three points off the bench.
Orono used a run of seven unanswered points in the second quarter to build a 20-11 lead. Clement scored four of them, all from the foul line.
Bucksport received baskets from Bires and Wight to close out the half and pull within five.
The Riots held the Bucks without a basket in the third quarter as the Bucks missed all six of their shots from the floor and turned the ball over several times.
However, they did sink a pair of free throws and limited the Riots to three third-quarter points on 1-for-8 shooting from the field.
Orono took a 23-17 lead into the final eight minutes.
Clement’s 3-pointer opened the scoring in the fourth quarter and triggered a 9-3 run that expanded the lead to 32-20. Souza Cunha had a steal and a layup and two assists during the rally and Smith had a basket and an assist.
The Bucks used a 6-2 spurt to pull within eight with 3:20 remaining but they never scored again and the Riots added four free throws, three by Souza Cunha.
“We played great defensively but we laid an egg offensively,” said Bucksport coach Bill Tracy. “We didn’t have any confidence offensively. And we gave the ball up too many times. Orono had a great inside presence and their guards really gave us fits out front.”
Orono outscored the Bucks 13-3 from the foul line, going 13-for-29, while the foul-plagued Bucks went 3-for-6.
“Our reach-in fouls killed us,” said Bucksport senior guard Bires.
Bires and Wight said the team didn’t play well offensively and that they needed to take more shots and get to the hoop more.