BANGOR, Maine — The three-time defending state champions are moving on to the semifinals, and it was their defense that led them there.
The No. 4 Washburn High School Beavers used full-court pressure and a poised offensive attack to cruise past No. 5 Machias (16-2) 80-42 in an Eastern Maine Class D girls basketball quarterfinal Monday evening at the Cross Insurance Center.
The Beavers will now face top seed Schenck of East Millinocket, which carved out a hard-fought 49-44 win over neighbors Stearns High of Millinocket.
Washburn and Schenck will meet in Thursday’s 8:35 p.m. semifinal.
“We knew they had two good ball handlers, so we wanted to make sure that we were able to use a lot of ball pressure there,” said Washburn head coach Diana Trams, whose Beaver team forced 25 turnovers compared to the Beavers’ 13.
“I thought we could’ve done it more effectively than we did, but we were able to force some turnovers that [converted] into points for us offensively,” she added.
Washburn got up 17 more shots than Machias thanks to those extra possessions. They shot a sizzling 63 percent (33-52) in the game, including a 4-11 clip from three-point range.
Junior point guard Mackenzie Worcester’s 23 points were tied for the game-high with Machias sophomore center Tate Dolley.
Washburn senior guard Carmen Bragg added 16 points on 7-11 shooting, including a 2-2 effort from beyond the arc, while junior forward Joan Overman poured in 10 points of her own on 5-6 shooting.
Worcester — who flirted with a quadruple-double with eight assists, six rebounds and six steals — chalked up her team’s win to their ball-hawking defense that allowed them to get out in transition.
“We love to run, and our defensive pressure allowed us to do that today,” she said.
The win is the Beavers’ (17-2) 13th straight victory dating back to early January.
Machias, which shot 43 percent (15-of-35) from the floor, set the tone of the game early with three straight turnovers to begin the contest. Bragg would connect on her first three shots to lead the Beavers out of the gate.
Dolley scored all 12 of the Bulldogs’ points in the first quarter and their first 14 overall before sophomore forward Karyssa Norton hit a pair of free throws midway through the second quarter. Dolley added 11 rebounds to record a double-double as the lone bright spot for Machias. Sophomore guard Kate Whitney chipped in 7 points on 3-7 shooting.
The Beavers took a 45-23 lead into halftime thanks to 16 first-half points from Worcester.
In the nightcap, Schenck High School senior 1,000-point scorer Morgan Thompson, limited to two points through three quarters largely due to foul trouble, scored her team’s last seven points to transform a 42-42 tie into a 49-42 lead.
She also grabbed four fourth-quarter rebounds.
“I knew my team needed me,” said Thompson. “My outside shots weren’t falling, so I began getting shots around the rim.”
She triggered the decisive spurt with a short base-line runner to give her team the lead for good with 3:15 remaining.
She converted an Ashley Leavitt pass 1:15 later and hit another short jumper 20 seconds later to give her team the breathing room it needed.
She added a free throw with 28.8 seconds left.
Stearns’ basket at the final buzzer by Mackenzie Carter was its first points since the 4:02 mark of the fourth quarter.
Thompson finished with nine points, eight rebounds and three assists.
She sat out all but a few seconds in the second quarter with three fouls, but Chantel Lane came off the bench and hit three 3-pointers to help the Wolverines take a 28-24 lead into the intermission.
Schenck scored the last eight points of the half with Taylor McLaughlin providing five of the points and Lane hitting a three.
“With Morgan out, we felt we had to step up and get our shots off,” said Lane.
The Wolverines also played an effective 1-3-1 which helped them overcome foul trouble.
Leavitt wound up with nine points, as did Lane.
McLaughlin had five points and four rebounds. Lane had five rebounds.
Stearns High School 1,000-point scorer Raychel Alley poured in a game-high 26 points. She also hauled down five rebounds.