BRUNSWICK, Maine — The Brunswick and Bangor girls basketball teams went into Tuesday’s New Year’s Eve matchup heading in different directions.
The Dragons were riding a four-game Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference winning streak, while the Rams were on a four-game slide.
Those respective streaks reached five by virtue of Brunswick’s 63-61 win.
After a stern talk from coach Sam Farrell, the Dragons (6-1) used a 10-0 fourth-quarter run to regain the lead for good.
“We had a gut check when they took the lead, and we took it back and just wasn’t going to give it up,” said Farrell.
“We really needed to pump ourselves up,” added Lyse Henshaw, who tallied nine fourth-quarter points to finish with a game-high 21. “We knew that we had to come back and make some plays.”
Despite the loss, Bangor coach Katie Herbine was encouraged by the performance of her team.
“This right here is the first time we have played well as a team,” said Herbine. “We learned a lot of things, and the kids came out of a lot of adversity today.”
Bangor, which trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, finally passed the Dragons in the fourth quarter behind the inside play of sisters Katie Butler and Mary Butler. A 6-0 run midway through the fourth quarter turned a one-point Rams deficit into a 57-52 lead with 2:37 remaining.
“This is the Bangor team that we have been waiting to see,” Herbine said.
Katie Butler scored 12 points in the second half to lead the Rams with 16 points, while Mary Butler finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, five blocked shots and six assists.
Emily Gilmore had 10 points (including Bangor’s only 3-pointer), five rebounds and three assists while Sarah Bragg pulled down 11 rebounds and scored eight points.
“It is still a loss, and that hurts,” said Herbine, whose Rams held a 40-23 edge on the boards. “We are starting to see what we can become and where I think we will be at the end of the season.”
Julia Champagne finished with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists and three steals to pace Brunswick. Anna Dimick provided 10 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals.
Bangor cut the Brunswick lead to 46-41 after three quarters, with only Dragons forward Dimick finding success, scoring six of her 10 points in the frame to keep Brunswick in the lead.
“I knew that we needed to hustle and get rebounds, something we were not doing in the first half,” said Dimick. “They are just really tough under the basket, so we had to box them out. It was tough.”
The Rams shot only 6-for-17 (35 percent) from the foul line and Brunswick was 19-for-32 (59 percent).
Brunswick was just warming up, as Champagne got hot, hitting for 11 points in the second quarter as the Dragons finished off an 18-4 run for a 32-21 lead.
The Dragons led 36-27 at the half.
“For them to have 36 points, that is not a good defensive performance,” said Herbine. “We came back in the second half and looked a lot better.”
Bangor switched from a 1-2-2 zone to a man-to-man defense, Mary Butler defending Champagne and Sarah Bragg staying with Henshaw. The pair scored 15 points in the second half after combined for 26 first-half points.
“We were not being quick against them, allowing them to adjust to the ball,” said Farrell after his Dragons missed 19 of 20 third-quarter shots and shot just 22 percent in the second half.