The top-seeded Hermon High School girls found themselves in a dogfight for a half against the scrappy eighth-seeded Caribou Vikings during Saturday afternoon’s Class B North basketball quarterfinal at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.
The Hawks led by just three at the intermission.
But the Hawks turned up the heat with their full-court press in the third quarter and they went on a 12-2 run to take control of the game en route to a 59-36 triumph.
The 17-2 Hawks face fifth seed Presque Isle (14-5) in Wednesday’s 3:35 p.m. semifinal.
Hermon forced eight turnovers in the third period and then scored the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to expand the lead to 50-28.
Senior guard Alex Allain had three of her game-high seven steals in the third period and fellow senior guard Gabryelle Chasse had two steals in the quarter.
“Our press started working a lot better in the third quarter,” said Hermon senior forward Lauren Plissey, who paced Hermon with a game-high 15 points to go with seven rebounds, four blocked shots, three assists and a steal. “We started getting our rotations down, reading each other and everything. We knew we had to keep pushing through. We had to turn it up and come out hot.”
“They came out really hard with the press in the second half, and we really struggled with it. It made a big difference in the game,” said first-year Caribou coach Kayla Richards, who guided her 9-11 Vikings to their first quarterfinal appearance since 2011.
Hermon also capitalized on Caribou’s lack of depth, which was diminished even more when starting 5-foot-10 sophomore forward Taylor LaBreck suffered a badly sprained ankle in the first period and couldn’t return.
Hermon also hurt the Vikings on the boards, outrebounding them 36-20.
“Boxing out was a real key for us,” said Hermon sophomore forward Grace Page, who had 11 points and six rebounds.
Junior forward Caitlynn Tracy returned to the lineup for the first time since breaking her wrist on Jan. 22 and contributed seven points and six rebounds.
Maddy Curtis had eight points and three rebounds and Chasse netted six points, seven rebounds, four steals and a blocked shot. Maddie Pullen had five points, six rebounds and three assists.
Sophomore center Paige Espling led Caribou with 10 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots. Gabrielle Marquis and Searra Herbert each had nine points. Marquis had three steals and two rebounds, and Herbert had two rebounds and two assists. Taylor Skidgel had five points and two rebounds.
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Correction: An earlier version of this report undercounted the number of points Hermon's Maddy Curtis scored. She had eight points.