BANGOR, Maine — Coach Mike Brown knew his top-seeded Stearns High School girls basketball team was going to have its hands full with eighth seed and defending state champ Narraguagus High School of Harrington.
He was right, but the Minutemen were able to survive the upset-minded Lady Knights 51-41 behind a game-high 23 points and nine rebounds from junior forward Peighton Ingersoll.
Senior guard Emma Alley contributed 12 points and six assists for Stearns (18-1), which meets No. 5 Dexter, a 50-26 winner over No. 4 Madawaska, in Friday’s 8:35 p.m. semifinal at the Cross Insurance Center. Narraguagus finished at 14-6.
“That’s as good an eighth seed as you’re going to find in the tournament,” said Brown. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Peighton Ingersoll really had a big game.
“It was a great win for us,” he added.
Stearns was clinging to a 39-37 lead with seven minutes left but Alley’s open 3-pointer from the left corner off sister Katherine Alley’s pass triggered a run of eight unanswered points which enabled Stearns to pull away.
“That is part of our offense,” said Emma Alley, a career 1,000-point scorer. “That was pretty exciting.”
Julia Stanley sank a foul shot with 4:02 left and passed to Ingersoll for a foul-line jumper to expand the lead to 45-37 before Ingersoll capped the flurry with two foul shots.
“We did a good job working together. A lot of us had to step up,” said Ingersoll. “I had to calm down and play the game. I threw them up and hoped for the best.”
“She was a very nice shooter,” said Narraguagus junior guard Madison Leighton.
Stearns outscored Narraguagus 14-6 in the fourth quarter and Brown said its full-court press was a factor.
“Even if we don’t get turnovers off the press, we feel we can wear other teams down,” said Brown.
“They seemed to get a little more tired and that gave us more motivation to keep working at it,” said Ingersoll.
Narraguagus coach Heather Thompson agreed.
“We ran out of steam at the end,” said Thompson. “We weren’t quite getting to our defensive points where we needed to be and they were making baskets. And we missed a couple key layups.”
“We didn’t expect them to be as fast as they were,” said Leighton.
Ingersoll also made three steals and Emma Alley grabbed four rebounds, including three important ones in the fourth quarter. Katherine Alley contributed six points, four assists and three rebounds and Stanley provided five points and six rebounds. Mackenzie Carter also had five points.
Kylee Joyce tallied 12 points for Narraguagus and Kirstin Kennedy chipped in with eight points and four rebounds. Kayla Toppin and Lanie Perry scored six points each and Kaci Alley had five points and five rebounds. Leighton had four points and three assists.