BANGOR, Maine — With a roster dotted with freshmen and sophomores, the Mattanawcook Academy girls basketball team showed maturity beyond their years Wednesday morning.
The Lincoln-based Lynx, who came into the season graduating nine seniors, showed the poise of a veteran team in upsetting Narraguagus of Harrington 46-40 in an Eastern Maine Class C quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
The sixth-ranked Lynx will take on second-seeded Orono in Friday night’s semifinals. The Red Riots upended No. 7 Piscataquis Community of Guilford in the second game of the day.
Mattanawcook (11-9) handed Orono its only loss of the regular season.
Coach Stephanie Dubay’s Lynx are no strangers to close games, having dropped a pair of one-point contests in overtime during the regular season.
But Mattanawcook would come out on the winning end when it mattered most, thanks to freshman Sydney Roberton’s seven fourth-quarter points, which included a 5-for-6 effort from the free-throw line.
Junior forward Kendra Thurlow was also clutch from the line, hitting all 10 of her foul shots en route to a team-high 14 points, while the Lynx went 12-16 from the stripe as a whole in the fourth quarter, which offset the fact they only hit one field goal.
“That would be the youth of us not attacking the basket,” said Dubay. “But [eventually] we did attack it and got fouled, so I’ll take that.”
The Lynx led most of the game, but the Knights forged ahead near the midway point of the fourth on a pair of foul shots by Anna Ramsay, but MA never trailed again after a free throw by Libby and two FTs and a layup by Robertson.
The Knights were able to close within two on a couple of occasions but could never get the equalizing or leading basket.
Both teams were turnover-prone at times, but the deeper Lynx were able to keep the Knights at bay.
“I have a very good bench, a young bench,” said Dubay. “I don’t lose much when I do sub.”
Thurlow was happy with the way Robertson was able to handle the tournament spotlight as a freshman.
“I’m really proud of her,” she said. “She’s a good player, a good athlete.”
Libby finished with 9 points, Carly McDonald eight and Courtney Gordon six for MA.
Ramsay led all scorers with 20 points for Narraguagus, which finishes 14-5.
In the second game, the Orono girls and their relentless player-to-player defense harassed the youthful Pirates into turnover after turnover right from the opening whistle.
Hannah Clement’s steal and layup on the game’s opening possession set the tone for the afternoon.
Orono limited PCHS to just five field goal attempts in the first quarter in building a 12-2 lead.
Orono expanded the lead to 14 points on three occasions in the second quarter, led by 10 at the half and had at least eight the rest of the way, although the scrappy Pirates never quit and pulled within nine on four occasions in the fourth quarter.
“Right out of the gates, you have to be ready for their intense pressure,” said PCHS coach Brian Gaw. “It’s tough to simulate in practice. Nobody goes that deep with that much quickness for 84 feet for an entire game like they do.”
“Our defense fuels our team,” said Orono coach Jessica Witham. “The girls did a good job. They knew the game plan and they were well-conditioned. They were ready for the big floor [94 feet at the Cross Center compared with 84 at high school gyms]. And we did a lot of little things like crashing the boards for offensive rebounds.”
“Our defense leads into our offense. We knew we had to come out hard and our defense is always hard for other teams to beat,” said sophomore guard Clement, who paced the Riots with 14 points, four assists, four rebounds and three steals.
“We did a real good job defensively,” said junior center Katie Sypher, who had 10 points and six rebounds.
Senior forward Katie Smith contributed five points, eight rebounds and three steals and Elea Kass nailed a pair of three-pointers.
PCHS, which started four sophomores and a junior, received eight points and eight rebounds from sophomore center Delani Bennett an eight points, four steals and three rebounds from sophomore forward Jordynne Littlefield.
Sophomore forward Haylee Patterson had four points and seven rebounds and sophomore guard Mikayla Dow chipped in with five points and three assists.