AUGUSTA, Maine — Top-ranked Messalonskee of Oakland was mildly disappointed in its debut at this year’s Class A North girls basketball tournament — an 11-point quarterfinal victory over No. 8 Gardiner.
The Eagles regrouped Wednesday afternoon at the expense of Hampden Academy.
Coach Keith Derosby’s club used a swarming defense that inspired separate first-half scoring runs of 11 and 15 points to remain unbeaten with a 70-31 semifinal victory over the fifth-seeded Broncos at the Augusta Civic Center.
“We were really excited and we came ready to play today,” said Messalonskee junior guard Ally Turner, who scored 10 of her 14 points in the first half to help the Eagles build a 39-19 lead. “We got a lot of our nerves out in our first game here and it just feels good to win.”
Messalonskee (20-0) play No. 3 Nokomis of Newport for the Class A North championship at 1 p.m. Friday.
Hampden, a semifinalist for the second straight year, finished 12-8.
“They’re athletic, they’re long, they run the floor,” said Hampden coach Tim Scott of Messalonskee. “It’s a tough matchup for everyone.”
Senior guard Sophie Holmes, who earlier in the day was named a semifinalist for the state’s Miss Basketball award, scored 16 points for the Eagles, as did senior forward McKenna Brodeur.
Gabrielle Wener, a 6-foot-1 freshman, added nine points for Messalonskee.
Sophia Narofsky and Peyton Smith each scored six points to pace Hampden Academy.
The Broncos, who lost to Messalonskee by 23 and 15 points during the regular season, were within 13-12 of the Eagles after Smith made the first of her two 3-pointers late in the first quarter.
But the 5-11 Turner drove the length of the floor to ignite an 11-0 surge in barely two minutes of playing time that gave Messalonskee a 24-12 cushion less than a minute into the second period.
Messalonskee’s collective wingspan and overall quickness in a full-court defensive setting triggered a run of 15 unanswered points later moments later that extended the lead to 39-16 before Smith closed out the half with another 3-pointer.
“We just played the way we played all season,” said Brodeur. “We came out strong and we wanted to win every quarter. We said coming in win one quarter at a time and we’ll win the game.”