YARMOUTH, Maine — With its season on the line, the Traip Academy girls basketball turned in the dominant quarter of defense coach Scott Blake was looking for.
Ninth-seeded Traip forced 12 turnovers in outscoring No. 8 North Yarmouth 12-1 in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s first-round game of the Class C South tournament — which allowed the Rangers to finish off their first tournament victory in six years going away, 49-34.
“In the second and third quarter, I think we just lost it defensively, and we let their shooters get hot and go to the rim and we had foul trouble,” Traip senior forward Cassidy Delano said. “In the fourth quarter, we just kind of shut them down and sealed them up.”
Delano’s 16 points and 14 rebounds led Traip to its third victory over the Panthers; the Rangers picked up wins of 48-33 and 38-23 during the regular season.
Traip (9-10) returns to the Augusta Civic Center next Tuesday night for the first time since it reached the 2012 regional semifinals. Top-seeded Boothbay (18-0) awaits the Rangers in the quarterfinals at 8:30 p.m.
“Our defense in the fourth quarter was the best it had been all night,” Blake said. “Before they went back out in the fourth I said ‘We haven’t played defense; let’s play some defense.’ We looked pretty good out there in the fourth quarter.”
Traip led 28-21 entering the third quarter and led 32-27 late in the frame following a Delano putback. But North Yarmouth (10-9) countered with a 6-0 run that began with a Helen Hamblett bucket. Maggie Larson and Sydney Plummer followed with hoops to give the Panthers a 33-32 lead.
Freshman guard Kiki Huntress immediately responded for Traip, sinking a 3-pointer to give Traip back the lead. Tezeta Aldaz followed with a layup off a steal and outlet by Reilly Eddy to give the Rangers a 37-33 lead heading into the fourth.
After both teams traded three turnovers to begin the quarter, Huntress drained a 3-pointer to give Traip a 40-33 lead with 5:32 left in regulation.
“Both of those shots were huge, because when they took the lead, I’m like ‘Here we go,’” Blake said. “We need somebody to respond, and for a freshman to respond like that with a big shot — that’s huge.”
“Usually when I’m open, I just chuck it up there,” Huntress said. “But this time I just really set myself and really tried to get those points on the board.”
Both Huntress and fellow freshman guard Addy Hale (eight points) forced the issue defensively in the fourth quarter. Blake’s switch of Huntress to slow down Larson (17 points) midway through the third quarter worked, as Lawson scored only three points the rest of the game.
“Her size and her athletic ability made a big difference on that,” Blake said. “I thought Addy Hale made a great steal, played great defense. Two freshmen played pretty well for us.”
North Yarmouth totaled 33 turnovers on the night, and the Rangers took a 42-34 lead midway through the fourth following a pass from Delano to Eddy in the paint.
“Coach tells us that when teams have two big shooters, he wants two of our guards to go mark up on them, while the rest of them play triangle defense in the paint,” Huntress said. “We all shut down their shots.”
Delano scored eight of her points and grabbed seven of her rebounds in pacing Traip to a 16-9 lead through the first quarter. Hale drained a 3-pointer to give Traip a 21-12 lead early in the second, and an Aldaz layup helped give Traip its 28-21 halftime cushion.
“Their guards defensively wrecked us,” North Yarmouth coach Nick Stacey said. “They’ve got a little more depth than us, they pressured us, and it takes a toll on you.”
Next up for the Rangers is undefeated Boothbay, a challenge Delano embraces.
“I’m really excited to go to Augusta,” she said. “Obviously it’s going to be a really tough game, but we’re going to put in 100 percent. Whatever the outcome, we’ll be happy. This is honestly the best year I’ve had at Traip, and going to Augusta just tops it off.”
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