AUGUSTA, Maine — The Nokomis Warriors used their experience and defense to subdue Skowhegan 45-32 in a Class A North girls basketball semifinal at the Augusta Civic Center on Wednesday afternoon.
Senior guard Sidney Moore provided much of the complementary offense for the Warriors with a game-high 20 points along with six rebounds, while classmate Olivia Brown added 10 points for coach Michelle Paradis’ club.
Third-seeded Nokomis of Newport (16-4) plays No. 1 Messalonskee of Oakland for the Class A North crown at 1 p.m. Friday. Messalonskee beat No. 5 Hampden Academy 70-31 in the second game.
The Warriors will be playing for their first regional championship since winning the Eastern Maine Class B crown in 2011.
Sophomore forward Annie Cooke scored 12 points to pace No. 2 Skowhegan (15-5).
The Nokomis defensive effort against the Indians was based in the fundamentals, with a half-court, player-to-player set designed to prevent Skowhegan from getting outright layups. The tactic worked, with the Indians shooting just 9 of 40 (23 percent) from the field.
“They’re a penetrate-and-dish (team) so we would literally leave them a step or two to make them make the shot instead of allowing them to penetrate into the middle,” said Paradis.
The experience — three seniors and a junior in the starting lineup — enabled the Warriors to shut down any sustained comeback bids by a youthful Skowhegan squad with five starting sophomores and no seniors on the roster.
After Crockett, Moore and Brown each scored at the outset of the second half to give Nokomis a 29-18 lead, Nokomis did not allow the Indians to get closer than eight points the rest of the way despite six missed free free throws during the fourth quarter.
“I have three extremely veteran seniors (Moore, Brown and guard Austin Taylor) and Chelsea’s a junior who’s a veteran from her freshman year, and each year they’ve made the tournament,” said Paradis. “I feel like that’s huge experience coming in, poise and control. They were actually extremely disciplined today and I’m super proud of them for that.
“We had a game plan and I told them they needed to stick to the game plan and they did exactly that.”
Nokomis made nine of its first 12 field-goal attempts and 10 of 18 overall in the first half, but 10 turnovers — primarily against Skowhegan’s full-court defensive pressure — limited the Warriors to a 23-18 lead at intermission.
“They’re super athletic and super athletic and that’s what they do, they make you uncomfortable when you have the ball,” said Paradis of Skowhegan. “We had to just be strong.”
Moore scored 13 early points, including three 3-pointers, as Nokomis twice built a nine-point advantage, but with Crockett and sophomore center Gabi Lord sitting out much of the second quarter with two fouls apiece, Skowhegan was able to claw back within five points thanks to a late 3-pointer by Sydney Reed.