The 16U Maine Firecrackers girls basketball team recently concluded its summer season by capturing the U.S. Junior National D.C. Silver Division championship at the Walter Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.
The Maine team bested a field of 48 teams to win the Silver Division crown with a 46-35 win over Illinois Pizzaz in the final.
Playing their eighth game in four days, the Firecrackers jumped out to an early lead on three baskets by Ashley Storey of Greely of Cumberland Center set up with assists from Victoria Lux of McAuley of Portland and and Katie McCrum of Thornton Academy in Saco.
Olivia Dalphonse, also of McAuley, added a layup to give the Firecrackers a 13-7 lead but two quick 3-pointers by the Pizzaz tied the game at 13-13. Presque Isle’s Hannah Graham knocked down two long jumpers on feeds from Mount Desert Island’s Sierra Tapley before Dalphonse hit a short jumper shot and then Lux then scored twice on feeds from Storey to put the Firecrackers up 23-15 at halftime.
Graham opened the second half with a 3-pointer before McAuley’s Sarah Clement — who played limited minutes throughout the tournament as she continues to recover from ACL surgery — finished a drive in traffic and then added two free throws before MDI’s Kelsey Shaw and Emily Esposito of Gorham worked the ball inside to Lux for three baskets.
Bangor’s Mary Butler led the Firecrackers’ defensively, limiting the Pizzaz’ top player to four points.
The Maine team included several rising high school seniors who have made college commitments in Storey (New Hampshire), Lux (Bentley), Butler (Brown) and Scarborough’s Ashley Briggs (who has committed to Saint Anselm but was unable to play in the national tournament due to injury).
Several other incoming seniors on the roster, among them Graham, McCrum, Dalphonse and Gorham’s Abby Hamilton — who is still recovering from January ACL surgery — are still considering their collegiate options.