BANGOR, Maine — The Orono High School girls basketball team has thrived on its swarming full-court pressure defense this season and Friday night was no exception.
The Red Riots forced youthful Mattanawcook Academy of Lincoln into numerous turnovers and transition points off those turnovers en route to a 47-31 victory in their Eastern Maine Class C semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center.
Second seed Orono is now 19-1 and will play the winner of the Houlton-Calais game in Saturday’s 7:05 p.m. final.
Mattanawcook of Lincoln wound up 11-10.
Sophomore guard Hannah Clement scored a game-high 14 points and also had five steals and two assists to lead the Riots. Senior guard Elea Kass had 10 points and two steals and 5-foot-11 senior center Katie Sypher contributed nine points and eight rebounds.
Katie Smith had eight points, three rebounds and two blocked shots.
The Lynx advanced to a 7:05 p.m. Saturday final against the winner of Friday’s late game between Houlton and Calais.
“We wanted to control the pace of the game. We’re really intense on defense,” said Clement.
“We like a fast-paced game. We’re all quick players and we like to push the ball and make the other team play a tempo they aren’t always comfortable with,” said Sypher.
Mattanawcook was held scoreless in the fourth quarter until freshman center Sydney Robertson scored from in close with 1:30 remaining. The Lynx had mustered just two shot attempts in the quarter up until that point.
Mattanawcook coach Stephanie Dubay said, “We’re very young and it showed tonight. We tried to dribble through that type of press when you should be passing and did different things like that.”
The Lynx were led by Robertson, who had 10 points and eight rebounds.
Courtney McIntyre had eight points for the Lynx, who have just two seniors. Courtney Gordon had seven points.
The Lynx hung in there in the first half and Courtney Gordon’s traditional three-point play with 1:08 left in the half pulled them within 23-18.
But Orono went on an 11-2 run that spanned the first 3:15 of the third quarter to open up some breathing room.
Sypher’s foul shot and left-handed runner from the lane made it 26-18 at the intermission and an Ana Eliza Souza Cunha steal and pass to Kass for a layup opened the second half.
McIntyre converted a Cheyanne Libby pass for MA but Sypher fed Smith for a traditional three-point play and Clement found an open Kass for a 3-pointer that made it 34-20.
MA couldn’t get any closer than 11 the rest of the way.
Sypher and Smith proved to be a handful underneath for the smaller Lynx and when they collapsed on them, they would kick it out to the perimeter.