AUGUSTA, Maine — The Messalonskee of Oakland girls basketball team defeated Nokomis of Newport by 37 points in their only regular-season meeting this winter.
The rematch wasn’t quite as easy, but the result was the same.
The undefeated and top-ranked Eagles used a smothering defense to build a 29-point halftime lead, then withstood a second-half comeback by Nokomis to secure a 55-39 victory and win the Class A North championship Friday afternoon at the Augusta Civic Center.
Messalonskee (21-0) plays the winner of Saturday’s Class A South final between No. 1 Greely of Cumberland Center and No. 2 Brunswick for the state title on March 4 in Augusta.
“It’s where we hoped to be, to get to this point and work for the next week and see what we can do,” Messalonskee coach Keith Derosby said. “At this point anything can happen.”
Third-ranked Nokomis concluded its season with a 16-5 record.
Senior guard Sophie Holmes led a balanced Messalonskee attack with 17 points and eight rebounds and was given the Bob Whytock Award presented to the outstanding-player sportsman of the girls tournament.
Senior point guard Allyssa Turner scored 13 points and senior forward McKenna Brodeur had 12 points and six rebounds.
Turner also dished out nine assists while choreographing much of the Eagles’ offense.
“Her ability to control the pace is unreal,” Derosby said. “We knew they were going to throw a zone at us to slow her down. I would, just to create havoc, but she never panicked, she just settled in. She understands that extra pass, and she has amazing court vision.”
Messalonskee stormed out to a 36-7 halftime lead behind a defense that held Nokomis to 12 percent (3 of 25) shooting from the field and induced 11 turnovers while not committing a foul until just 5:11 remained in the second quarter — and that was a player-control call.
Turner and Holmes combined for seven blocked shots during the game’s first 16 minutes while Nokomis’ leading postseason scorer, Sidney Moore, was being held scoreless by 6-foot-1 Eagles freshman Gabrielle Wener.
“They’re tall, they’re lanky and they’re all in your space, and we’re a team that’s never let people in our space,” Nokomis coach Michelle Paradis said. “They really are tenacious defensively so it really does put pressure on you offensively.”
Nokomis didn’t not go down easily after the break, outscoring Messalonskee 17-8 in the third quarter and getting as close as 11 points at 50-39 on a 3-pointer by junior guard Chelsea Crockett with 2:04 left in the game.
But the deficit was just too great, as Brodeur made 1 of 2 from the line and Holmes then stole the ball and went on to feed Lydia Dexter for a layup that put the game out of reach with a minute left.
“I’m proud of them,” Paradis said of her team. “They they didn’t hang their heads, and they really did a great job of coming back and redeeming themselves and proving that they could play with this team on this floor.”
Crockett led Nokomis with 12 points while senior guard Olivia Brown scored eight points and Moore and sophomore center Gabrielle Lord each finished with seven.